Highlights:

  1. New PTPTN repayment scheme postponed
  2. Moody´s affirms A3 rating, maintains stable outlook on Malaysia
  3. MITI optimistic of Malaysia’s exports surpassing 5% growth target
  4. Astro to offer VSS to staff
  5. Singapore grants first accelerated fintech patent through IPOS’ Fintech Fast Tract Initiative

New PTPTN repayment scheme postponed
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said that the new repayment scheme for the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) borrowers has been postponed. In his posting on Facebook, he said: “The mechanism for the new PTPTN repayment scheme will be postponed, taking into consideration the need to hold discussions with various stakeholders to hear their views and recommendations”. On Wednesday, PTPTN announced that Scheduled Salary Deductions (PGB) would begin in January for borrowers earning from RM2,000 a month.

Moody´s affirms A3 rating, maintains stable outlook on Malaysia
International rating agency, Moody’s Investors Service has affirmed the Malaysian government’s local and foreign currency issuer and senior unsecured debt ratings at A3 with stable outlook. The rating affirmation recognises that Malaysia’s fiscal strength has weakened, while the stable outlook balances credit constraints from low-debt affordability and a high-debt burden against inherent credit strengths, including resilient economic growth and a stable and broad funding base for the country’s debt. “Government debt will stay high longer and the government’s fiscal policy choices will narrow the revenue base and reduce fiscal flexibility further,” Moody’s said in a statement today.

MITI optimistic of Malaysia’s exports surpassing 5 per cent growth target
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) is cautiously optimistic of Malaysia surpassing the export growth target of five per cent this year as indicated by the current figures. Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Dr Ong Kian Meng said MITI was still monitoring the situation for unanticipated events which might affect the target, particularly the US-China trade war. “For now we are cautiously optimistic that we could exceed the target. The export (especially) of electrical and electronics (products) is growing very strong, supported by companies like Panasonic which leads the way in pushing it to a higher level.

Astro to offer VSS to staff
Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd will be undertaking a voluntary separation scheme (VSS) for staff given the challenging overall economic landscape. Astro said the move would allow the group to further simplify the organisation, enhance operational efficiency and reduce annual operating expenses. Malaysia’s biggest direct broadcast satellite pay-TV service provider said the scheme was offered purely on a voluntary basis, and had put in place a transition programme that would provide the right support to employees who opt for the VSS, including coaching and skills upgrading training programmes. “The media and entertainment industry is currently operating in an environment that is experiencing an unprecedented rate of disruption. Industry players are required to reinvent and adapt swiftly to remain relevant in this new reality,” it said in a statement today.

Singapore grants first accelerated fintech patent through IPOS’ Fintech Fast Tract Initiative
The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) has granted the first accelerated patent under its FinTech Fast Track initiative to Voyager Innovations, a technology company based in ASEAN. While patent grants typically take at least two to four years, and in many cases even longer, the fast track patent granted to Voyager took only seven months from application to grant. Built using a distributed ledger technology, the patented invention allows audiences at an onsite or offsite live event to participate in real-time activities such as surveys or prize draws through an app. The capabilities of this digital marketing technology is made possible by combining event-specific location data, event-defined behaviours, as well as secondary sensing data such as the participants’ movement and position of their mobile devices. The community of over 1,200 FinTech enterprises in Singapore and the ASEAN region can tap on IPOS’ FinTech Fast Track accelerated process to bring their FinTech ideas to the market in a much shorter time. In 2016, investments in ASEAN’s FinTech sector increased by 33 per cent to US$252 million. This trend in ASEAN mirrors the global trend in which 12,058 FinTech patents are published in 2018 and is on track to surpass 2017’s record of 13,592.