Highlights:

  1. MIDF expects inflation rate to average at 1.3 pct
  2. Insurance industry to discuss IR4.0 impact at AIS 2018
  3. Malaysia issues permanent ban on import of plastic waste
  4. Singapore’s economy to see ‘slower but still firm’ growth for rest of 2018 and next year
  5. 3 SEA startups feature at Accenture’s Fintech Innovation Lab Asia Pacific Investor Day

MIDF expects inflation rate to average at 1.3 per cent
MIDF Research expects a tepid headline inflation rate of 1.3 per cent for the whole year, compared with 3.8 per cent in 2017. The research house said this is supported by a lower inflation rate of 1.2 per cent for the first nine months compared to 3.9 per cent in the same period last year. “We expect inflationary pressure mainly from fuel-related items to calm, consistent with a gradual rise in global commodity prices on top of the pass-through effect from a strengthening ringgit (USD/MYR average: 4.32 in 2017, against our forecast of 4.00 in 2018) and subsidy of domestic fuel prices,” it said. MIDF Research added that as inflationary pressure remains benign, it anticipates Bank Negara to maintain its current monetary stance for the rest of 2018 barring any surprises in domestic economic growth. In September 2018, the consumer price index increased 0.3 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y), marginally higher than 0.2 per cent (y-o-y) recorded in the preceding month and in line with MIDF’s expectation.

Insurance industry to discuss IR4.0 impact at AIS 2018
Insurance leaders, industry players and regulators will discuss the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the insurance industry, at the third ASEAN Insurance Summit (AIS 2018) next month. Themed, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution and Its Impact on the ASEAN Insurance Industry”, the summit will also showcase the most innovative approaches and technologies that can help to sustain the growth of the industry. Organised by the ASEAN Insurance Council (AIC), AIS 2018 is supported by the Life Insurance Association of Malaysia (LIAM) and General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM) under the guidance of the ASEAN Secretariat. AIC is an organisation under ASEAN which focuses primarily on the insurance industry and related matters. AIC secretary-general, Evelina F. Pietruschka said: “AIS 2018 is a platform to promote public awareness, preparedness and participation of ASEAN regulators and insurance leaders as part of an initiative to expedite the inclusive implementation of regional economic and financial integration under the ASEAN Vision 2025. “The AIS will be organised as a symposium where senior insurance industry leaders and practitioners from the ASEAN region will have an opportunity to voice and share their perspectives during the panel sessions and contribute to the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) policy-making process. “At the same time, they will be kept abreast of the AEC progress and updates on the insurance sector towards Vision 2025,” she added. Meanwhile, LIAM president Anusha Thavarajah said the life insurance industry was embracing the digital transformation brought about by IR4.0 by undergoing various developments in its businesses and operations. “With support from the various stakeholders and regulators, the life insurance industry will continue to remain focused in pursuing its transformation agenda, fulfilling its aspiration to increase the penetration rate from 54 per cent to 75 per cent in life insurance and takaful, and achieving the financial inclusion agenda,” Anusha said.

Malaysia issues permanent ban on import of plastic waste
Malaysia has issued a permanent ban on the import of plastic waste effective today. Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said the country would also be phasing out the import of other types of plastic within three years. The decision was made in a meeting between Zuraida’s ministry and the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change; Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources; and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. The government had prior to this imposed a three-month freeze on the issuance of approved permits (AP) for the import of plastic waste.

Singapore’s economy to see ‘slower but still firm’ growth for rest of 2018 and next year
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said, given rising global uncertainties such as trade tensions, the Singapore economy will likely expand at a slower pace for the rest of the year and in 2019. Still, growth is expected to be “enduring” amid factors such as the modern services cluster playing a bigger role in supporting the economy, the central bank said in its 115-page biannual macroeconomic review released today. Referring to the official forecast that tipped 2018 growth to be between 2.5 to 3.5 per cent, MAS reiterated its expectation for the full-year figure to come in within the upper half of the range, before moderating slightly in 2019. Turning to the outlook of the labour market, the central bank said a broad range of indicators suggest that labour demand has strengthened further, especially in modern services. The slack in the labour market has also been absorbed, it added. This means that wage growth is expected to strengthen from last year, “providing an impetus to domestic price pressures towards the end of this year and into the next,” MAS said.

3 SEA startups feature at Accenture’s Fintech Innovation Lab Asia Pacific Investor Day
EIGHT leading financial technology (fintech) companies presented their solutions and services to top banking, insurance, venture capital and technology executives in Hong Kong yesterday at the fifth annual Accenture FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific Investor Day, which highlighted the evolution and growth of the industry. The 12-week mentorship program — a collaboration between Accenture and leading financial institutions — has experienced strong growth since its inception in 2014, with the number of participating financial institutions more than doubling, to 22 this year from 10 in 2014. The number of applications from startups has also surged, to more than 160 this year from fewer than 100 in 2014. “The evolution in the market and of the Lab itself over the last five years shows how promising the future for financial services technology will be in the region,” said Piyush Singh, a senior managing director at Accenture who leads the company’s Financial Services practice in Asia-Pacific and Africa. “Not only have we seen massive growth in the number of applications from startups, each year more and more financial firms have taken part in the program, underscoring the value everyone sees in using digital tools to strengthen their business.”