1. UOB develops credit underwriting engine for small business loans across the region
  2. Malaysia extends business events roadshow to a new city in China
  3. Japan Tourism invites 30 global bloggers to promote Japan’s charms
  4. Malaysia a strong economy in global context
  5. MATTA unhappy with prohibition of surcharge on credit card payments
  6. Global airline companies fear US tariffs will depress travel industry

UOB taps data analytics to develop credit underwriting engine for small business loans across the region
United Overseas Bank Limited (UOB) has made credit underwriting for small businesses across Southeast Asia more efficient and effective. It created a data analytics-powered credit underwriting engine that cuts both the turnaround time and the number of steps involved in a small business loan application by more than half. The analytics-enabled engine, first rolled out two years ago, has since been implemented across five markets – Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The enhanced system harnesses the Bank’s existing sources of information with new pools of data, such as those relating to the company’s day-to-day operations. It then applies analytics to gain deeper insights into the credit behaviour of small businesses. By including additional information that is not traditionally used in the assessment process, the Bank can more accurately determine the creditworthiness of its small business customers and in turn extend credit with more certainty. Since the implementation of the enhanced credit underwriting engine, the Bank has seen a 50 per cent reduction in the default rate of its small business loans.

Malaysia extends business events roadshow to a new city in China
Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), an agency under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture headed a strong delegation of 27 industry partners to China to promote Malaysia as an attractive and preferred corporate meeting and incentive travel destination. This year, the roadshow will see an extension to a new city, Chongqing. The journey will start in Shanghai on 23 March, Beijing on 26 March, Chengdu on 28 March, followed by Chongqing on 30 March and will end at Guangzhou on 2 April. The 8th China Roadshow is expected to help further enhance the Ministry of Tourism & Culture’s continuous efforts to tap into the lucrative China outbound market, which contributes to tourist arrival to Malaysia. The roadshow serves as a platform for MyCEB to showcase Malaysia’s best and latest offerings to entice more corporate meeting and incentive groups from China. Apart from facilitating B2B engagements between the participating industry players, the roadshow consists of destination workshop featuring new developments and product offerings and experiences in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Langkawi, Sabah and Sarawak as well as for the first time, providing training to the local meeting planners to create interesting thematic incentive itineraries.

Japan Tourism invites 30 global bloggers to promote Japan’s charms
The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) invited 30 ‘powerful influencers’ (bloggers) from 20 foreign countries and regions to visit and promote the tourism attractions across Japan, in March. Malaysia was one of the countries invited to join the project. The other countries and regions involved were South Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, India, Australia, the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Spain. The project promoted ‘Instagrammable’ (photogenic) spots and hands-on programmes in addition to tourist spots already highly recognised abroad. The project included six courses in Hokkaido/Tohoku, Kanto/Koshinetsu, Chubu/Hokuriku, Kansai, Chugoku/Shikoku and Kyushu/Hokkaido.

Malaysia a strong economy in global context
Standard Chartered Bank said Malaysia stands out as a strong economy in the global context. Standard Chartered Bank Group Chief Executive, William T. Winters said, “We are very positive on the Malaysian economy. Growth in 2017 was particularly strong and we expect another good year of growth this year. “We see strong fiscal discipline, which is important, a stable and strong currency and growing exports,” he told reporters after his 30-minute meeting with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in Kuala Lumpur. Winters said the bank had been active in bringing investments into the country and the view of international investors towards Malaysia was also very positive, as they were comfortable with the rule of law, economic growth and talent pool.

MATTA unhappy with prohibition of surcharge on credit card payments
The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) is unhappy with the prohibition of a surcharge on credit card payments. Its President, Datuk Tan Kok Liang said travel agencies and tour companies operated on low margins, unlike retail outlets at shopping malls. “As such, a surcharge has to be imposed on credit card payments just to recover the cost of the merchant discount rate (MDR) charged by banks,” he said in a statement today. He said the easy way out for travel agencies and tour companies was to embed the MDR into the pricing, but it would be unfair to the vast majority of customers who paid by cash, cheque or online. “It would benefit consumers more when charges are transparent and kept as low as possible,” he added. Yesterday, Bank Negara Malaysia issued a statement reiterating that retailers are not permitted to impose surcharges for payments using debit cards. A similar prohibition is applied for credit card payments under the rules of international card schemes such as Visa and Mastercard. The Central Bank advised consumers who encounter merchants that impose surcharges to lodge a complaint with their respective banks or payment card issuers.

Global airline companies fear US tariffs will depress travel industry
Major global airline companies fear the US tariffs on many goods from China will have a negative impact on the airline industry. Most of the tourism and aviation executives at some of the world’s largest airlines say that they fear that US President Donald Trump’s decision could encourage a trade war and depress demand for travel between the US and China. This will give a huge impact in MICE tourism business. President Trump late Thursday, announced that he had directed the US trade representative to evaluate the stricter tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese goods.