Highlights:

  1. Proton to assemble X70 locally after completion of plant expansion
  2. iCar Asia to launch new Lead Marketplace platform for car dealers
  3. IFC Facilitates Discussion for Improved Access to SME-Finance in Lao PDR
  4. Fear of Cyberattacks Slows Down the Progress of Digital Transformation in Financial Services Companies in Asia Pacific
  5. 3,000 Cyber Threat Alerts Left Unaddressed by Malaysian Companies Daily
  6. OECD warns of global slowdown

Proton to assemble X70 locally after completion of plant expansion
Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional  (Proton) expects to roll out the completely knocked down unit of its latest X70 sport utility vehicle model after the completion of its Tanjung Malim plant expansion. Deputy Chief Executive Officer Datuk Radzaif Mohamed said the RM1.4 billion expansion exercise was scheduled to be completed by the fourth quarter of next year, which would increase the plant’s production capacity to 250,000 cars per annum from 150,000 units currently. “We are getting the plant ready before we can assemble the Proton X70 there. The expansion will include new construction specifically to assemble the new model.

iCar Asia to launch new Lead Marketplace platform for car dealers
iCar Asia, a leading cars portal network in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, will soon launch a Lead Marketplace platform – focusing on new car sales to help new car dealers. The dealers will be able to completely manage the leads generated by the iCar Asia consumer websites as well as allowing them to manage their sales team and inventory. iCar Asia in a statement said this new platform is a particular focus for the company with new car sales increase of YTD September across Malaysia (up seven per cent), Thailand (up 20 per cent ) and Indonesia (up seven per cent). This is a marked difference to a market like Australia which was down by one per cent.

IFC Facilitates Discussion for Improved Access to SME-Finance in Lao PDR
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is promoting improved access to SME-finance in Lao PDR by facilitating a business enabling environment and developing market solutions for serving small and medium enterprises. SMEs are key drivers of economic growth and the primary engine of job creation in the country. SMEs account for more than 99 percent of total enterprises and over 80 percent of the workforce in Lao PDR according to the latest economic census in 2013. Yet, they face a financing gap of $1.2 billion and only 12.4 percent of SMEs have a bank loan or credit line with banks. Of this, women-owned SMEs face a financing gap of $340 million. To help remove the financial hindrance to SME growth, IFC, in collaboration with the Bank of Lao PDR held a workshop on ‘Financial Solutions for Small and Medium Enterprises in Lao PDR’. The aim was to underline the need for a robust financial infrastructure and a favourable operating environment that encourages financial institutions to expand lending to SMEs in the country.

Fear of Cyberattacks Slows Down the Progress of Digital Transformation in Financial Services Companies in Asia Pacific
A Frost & Sullivan study commissioned by Microsoft reveals that despite financial services being a highly regulated industry, more than half (56%) of the organizations surveyed have either experienced a security incident (27%) or are not sure if they have had a security incident as they have not checked (29%). The study further reveals that over the last year, each cyberattack has cost large financial services companies in Asia Pacific an average of US$7.9 million in direct and indirect economic loss, and three out of five organizations have also experienced job losses resulting from cybersecurity incidents. For mid-sized financial services companies, the average economic loss due to a cybersecurity incident was US$32,000 per organization. These findings are part of the “Understanding the Cybersecurity Threat Landscape in Asia Pacific: Securing the Modern Enterprise in a Digital World” study which aims to provide business and IT decision makers in the financial services sector with insights on the economic cost of cybersecurity breaches and to help to identify any gaps in their cybersecurity strategies. The initial study involved a survey of 1,300 business and IT decision makers ranging from mid-sized organizations (250 to 499 employees) to large-sized organizations (>than 500 employees), and 12% of these respondents are from the financial services industry. More than three out of five (63%) of the business and IT leaders in the financial services sector have indicated that the fear of cyberattacks has derailed their organizations’ digital transformation plans, thus undermining the organizations’ ability to capture opportunities and diminishing their competitive advantage in the burgeoning digital economy. It was rather revealing that despite the fact that cybersecurity will likely be enhanced through the digital transformation process, the majority of respondents (40%) from financial services industry saw their cybersecurity strategy as merely a means to safeguard their organizations against cyberattacks. Only one out of four (25%) sees cybersecurity as a business advantage and an enabler for digital transformation.

3,000 Cyber Threat Alerts Left Unaddressed by Malaysian Companies Daily
Despite facing high potential cost to their business, Malaysian companies are not addressing at least 60 percent (3,000) of the 5,000 cyber threat alerts they received daily, according to the Cisco 2018 Asia Pacific Security Capabilities Benchmark Study. Beyond that, those who faced breaches in the past twelve months have stated losses ranging from USD$500,000 (RM2.078 million) to USD$10 million (RM41.6 million) or more from such attacks. This includes costs from loss of revenue, loss of customers, and out of pocket expenses. Consequently, 84 percent of respondents revealed that their company has suffered a breach in the past year, alone, highlighting the scale of the challenge companies faced intackling the rapidly evolving cyber threat landscape. According to Albert Chai, Managing Director of Cisco Malaysia, “The lack of focus by Malaysian companies in addressing threat alerts is a cause for concern, particularly in the wake of the recent slew of ransomware attacks. Given that digital innovation and adoption have been a key theme in Malaysia in the past decade, the ability to tackle these risks is crucial in ensuring the long-term success of Malaysia’s digital economy.” However, it is not all bad news for Malaysia. The study also revealed that local companies are faring better than their regional counterparts in prioritising personnel training in the aftermath of a breach.  59 per cent of Malaysian companies place this as a priority as compared to 54 percent in Korea, 46 percent in Singapore and 33 percent in Japan.

OECD warns of global slowdown
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has warned that the global economy has peaked and faces a slowdown driven by international trade tensions and tighter monetary conditions. The OECD, which groups the top developed economies, said it had trimmed its growth forecast for 2019 to 3.5 per cent from the previous 3.7 per cent. The 2018 estimate was left unchanged at 3.7 per cent. For 2020, the global economy should grow 3.5 per cent, it said in its latest Economic Outlook report. “The shakier outlook in 2019 reflects deteriorating prospects, principally in emerging markets such as Turkey, Argentina and Brazil,” it said. “The further slowdown in 2020 is more a reflection of developments in advanced economies as slower trade and lower fiscal and monetary support take their toll.” OECD chief Angel Gurria highlighted problems caused by trade conflicts and political uncertainty – an apparent reference to US President Donald Trump’s stand-off with China which has roiled the markets. “We urge policy-makers to help restore confidence in the international rules-based trading system,” Gurria said in a statement. Trade tensions have already shaved 0.1-0.2 percentage points off global GDP this year, the Economic Outlook report said.