Highlights:

  1. SME FORYOU: Using data tech to Keep SMEs Ahead of Competition
  2. Free fees for students at skills training institutes under review
  3. Broadband subscribers likely to enjoy rebate
  4. Government urged to relook at tourism regulations
  5. US-China trade sanctions escalate
  6. Starbucks teams up with Alibaba for China coffee deliveries

SME FORYOU: Using data tech to Keep SMEs Ahead of Competition
Leading data technology specialist Fusionex released its revolutionary platform called SME FORYOU, during the International Retail and Franchise (MIRF) 2018 Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur. Designed for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the region, the user-friendly platform is aimed at encouraging SMEs to adopt Big Data Analytics (BDA) and kick-start their e-commerce plans, enabling them to promote their brands and products to local and international markets. SME FORYOU will help SMEs to fast-track overall sales, acquire new customers, increase the rate of repeat transactions, all while granting them access to a ready database of more than 8 million customers worldwide. The SME FORYOU platform received positive feedback at the MIRF event. By leveraging off the platform, SMEs can better focus on their brand and engage with customers anytime, anyhow, and anywhere. Even some of the established major companies have adopted Fusionex’s FORYOU platform including banks, insurance companies and chain outlets, alongside a host of other SMEs that operate convenience stores, restaurants, travel agents, optical stores and many more.

Free fees for students at skills training institutes under review
The government is reviewing the free financing of fees for students at several skills training institutes under the Manpower Department. Human Resources Minister M. Kula Segaran said the proposal was being discussed by the Economic Planning Unit. “The Ministry is always concerned about the welfare of students and a proposal to the government for the funding of free fees was submitted in 2013, but it was rejected because it involved financial implications for the government. “The Ministry has decided to do a follow-up and re-submitted the proposal together with the coordination of the Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) in 2018,” he said in Parliament today,

Broadband subscribers likely to enjoy rebate
Subscribers of fixed broadband packages from local telecommunications companies are likely to get a rebate on their payment following the enforcement of the Mandatory Standard on Access Pricing (MSAP) effective 1 January 2018. Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said it was one of the considerations of ongoing discussions to determine the wholesale ceiling price for providers of facilities and services used by telecommunications companies in the market. Subscribers who had paid more would be given a refund, he said. “I have taken the approach that it should be backdated (to January 1). Gobind Singh said he would meet with the telecommunications companies this week to continue discussions on new broadband packages following the enforcement of the MSAP. The deadline for all the proposed packages was 31 July. Gobind Singh had previously targeted for the fixed broadband prices in Malaysia to drop at least 25 per cent by the end of this year following the implementation of the MSAP which would see a drop in the wholesale prices of facility providers and, hence, the market prices for consumers.

Government urged to relook at tourism regulations
Tourism Productivity Nexus has urged the government to relook at regulations that involve tourism transportation, saying the majority have become obsolete. Its chairman Uzaidi Udanis said currently there are various acts related to road, railway, maritime and air transport that have become a hindrance to the growth of the industry. “We aim to reduce the unnecessary burden faced by the tourism players. Some of the regulations can be simplified and some need to be relooked with the new growth in the tourism sector,” he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.

US slaps export controls on dozens of Chinese firms over ‘threat to national security’
Washington has slapped restrictions on dozens of key Chinese companies – including state-owned developers of military-use technologies such as air defence and satellite systems – for reasons of national security. The US Department of Commerce added 44 Chinese entities onto its export control list on Wednesday for posing a “significant risk” to US national security or foreign policy interests in the midst of the heated trade spat between the world’s two largest economies. In a direct challenge to China’s ambitions to become a technological superpower, driven by the Made in China 2025 policy, the new restrictions target some of the key elements of the policy including air defence systems, satellite communications systems, semiconductors and aerospace products. The US controls will limit that companies’ access to products that the US commerce department deems could have dual military or civilian use and may deny them key components such as nuclear materials, telecoms equipment, lasers and sensors. Markets reacted on Thursday morning, sending share prices for businesses related to those on the export control list spinning downwards.

Starbucks teams up with Alibaba for China coffee deliveries
Starbucks has partnered e-commerce giant Alibaba to give the US coffee giant greater access to China’s growing food-delivery market. The move comes as Seattle-based Starbucks faces a challenge from upstart Chinese company Luckin Coffee, which has expanded aggressively on a strategy based largely on satisfying delivery orders placed by mobile app users. Starbucks president and CEO Kevin Johnson called the tie-up “rocket fuel” for the US company’s emerging digital strategy. Under the arrangement, Starbucks products to be dropped off to customers would be handled by Alibaba’s food-delivery unit, Ele.me. Long a traditionally tea-drinking nation, China is seeing an explosion in coffee consumption and Starbucks has targeted the country as its key market after the United States, and its main source of new growth. It already has more than 3,400 cafes in more than 140 Chinese cities and has said a new outlet opens every 15 hours in the country.