AirAsia introduces its own mobile wallet, BigPay

AirAsia has joined the ranks of digital wallet providers with its own app, BigPay

AirAsia Bhd Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes announced the service on Twitter, saying it was part of AirAsia's digital strategy.

"One day this product will be worth more than @AirAsia. Many features being rolled out. Soon no more cash on AirAsia," he said.

He added that the BigPay electronic wallet would eventually offer foreign exchange remittances and possibly even money lending to AirAsia's database of 63 million names.

According to the BigPay's Google Play page, the app was linked to Mastercard and could be topped up from their debit or credit cards.

The app is said to be accepted at over 30 million merchants that accept Mastercard globally, plus users would earn AirAsia BIG loyalty points when they spend and get zero processing fees when booking a flight with the airline.

The app's page also assured that it was regulated by Bank Negara Malaysia and had the latest security protocols including fingerprint and facial recognition to verify the user's identity.

BigPay is available on Google Play store and the Apple App store.

By –The Star

IBM, Maersk Form New Blockchain Company for International Cargo

IBM and A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S have started a company that will use new technologies such as blockchain, a digital ledger best known for underpinning bitcoin, to track cargo movements and automate paperwork for shipping across international borders.

Maersk, the Danish conglomerate that owns the world’s largest container shipping line, will be the first to use the new platform, while International Business Machines Corp. will provide the back end and support for the technology. The new company said it expects to sign up large shippers, ports and customs officials for the service, set to become available in the second half of 2018.

The IBM-Maersk joint venture, which will be based in the New York City area, named Michael White, former president of Maersk Line in North America, as chief executive officer. Maersk will own 51 percent of the new company, with the rest of the stake belonging to IBM, the companies said Tuesday in announcing the new venture. The two companies started testing blockchain technology for the cargo supply business in June 2016.

On its first day, the new firm will track 18 percent of ocean containerized trade, White said in a phone interview. It will need merger approval from regulators, he said.

“Technology is changing everything about our world today, and it’s about time to let it change our business,” White said, adding that the company will also use web-connected devices and newest analytics technologies. “We think we can lower the cost of global trade.”

Blockchain has become a key bet for IBM as the Armonk, New York-based company seeks to sell more of its software delivered through its cloud server infrastructure. Big Blue needs to get more customers to buy its suite of cloud-based products to return to revenue growth and improve margins. The digital ledger technology requires multiple companies to join the same network to work, which means signing on one client makes it easier to sign on more. The blockchain software developed by the new company will run on IBM’s cloud.

By– Bloomberg

Intel CEO pledges urgency, transparency in wake of Meltdown and Spectre

Since cybersecurity researchers uncovered two massive microprocessor flaws that leave nearly every computing device in the world vulnerable to hackers, Intel has borne the biggest brunt of criticism in both the press and the stock market.

On Jan 11, a week after researchers led by Google unveiled the Meltdown and Spectre bugs, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich penned a short letter online pledging urgency, security and transparency from the company and from the larger industry.

"Following announcements of the Google Project Zero security exploits last week, Intel has continued to work closely with our partners with the shared goal of restoring confidence in the security of our customers' data as quickly as possible," wrote Krzanich.

Meltdown and Spectre are in chips made by Intel – the world's largest chip maker – and other major suppliers dating as far back as 1995. The flaws allow hackers to steal data from the memory of running apps, including password managers, browsers and emails in different fashions.

Hardware and cloud computing giants such as Apple, Google and Amazon rushed to issue patches to mitigate both bugs – but cybersecurity experts say these are software band-aids to a fixed hardware problem that may never fully be erased.

Krzanich spelled out three facets Intel will work on to mitigate the damage: "customer-first urgency," "transparent and timely communications" and "ongoing security assurances." Intel will have updates to patch the bugs for at least 90% of Intel CPUs by Jan 15 and 100% by the end of the month, wrote Krzanich.

Krzanich also said Intel will cooperate with other companies in the industry in learning to mitigate the bugs and add academic funding to the issue.

"We encourage our industry partners to continue to support these practices," wrote Krzanich. "There are important roles for everyone: Timely adoption of software and firmware patches by consumers and system manufacturers is critical. Transparent and timely sharing of performance data by hardware and software developers is essential to rapid progress."

Krzanich, who has been Intel's CEO since 2013, first addressed the Meltdown and Spectre bugs in an on-stage presentation at CES in Las Vegas earlier this month. He said there has been no recorded incident of hackers using either bug to steal user data.

"Security is job number one for Intel and our industry, so the primary focus of our decisions and discussions have been to keep our customer's data safe," said Krzanich.

Krzanich sold nearly 900,000 of his 1.1 million company shares in November – after the company was aware of Spectre and Meltdown. The sale, worth nearly US$24mil (RM95.10mil), prompted two senators to request a SEC and Justice Department investigation into possible insider trading violations.

Intel earlier this month dismissed any notion Krzanich's sale was tied to the knowledge of the bugs.

"Brian's sale is unrelated," said an Intel spokesperson. "It was made pursuant to a pre-arranged stock sale plan with an automated sale schedule. He continues to hold shares in line with corporate guidelines." — The San Jose Mercury News/Tribune News Service.

From – The Star

Tom Siebel's billion-dollar software firm raises $100 million

C3 IoT, a software company founded and run by longtime Silicon Valley executive Thomas Siebel that helps companies collect and analyze data, has raised another $100 million in a new funding backed by TPG Growth, the company said on Wednesday.

The valuation of C3 IoT was not disclosed. The company had been valued at $1.4 billion in its last funding round in March 2017.

C3 IoT is a software developer for the “industrial Internet of Things,” or a network of devices, vehicles and building sensors that collect and exchange data.

TPG’s Rise Fund, its social and environmental fund co-founded by U2’s Bono and managed by TPG Growth, is investing in C3 IoT for the first time in one of its largest investments to date. TPG Partner Nehal Raj said in a statement that C3 IoT helps create “measurable social impact” in areas such as healthcare and energy.

TPG first invested in C3 IoT in September 2016. The company has now raised $122 million in total and said it is profitable.

Siebel, the chief executive of C3 IoT, sold his company Siebel Systems to Oracle Corp in 2005 for $5.85 billion. Siebel is also investing in the new round, which closed earlier this week, along with Breyer Capital and Sutter Hill.

From – Reuters

IBM shares rise after Barclays double upgrade

Shares in International Business Machines rose nearly 2 percent on Wednesday, helped by a double-notch upgrade for the company from Barclays ahead of fourth-quarter results on Thursday.

Barclays cited a handful of reasons for moving the stock to “overweight” from “underweight”, saying the company could emerge as the next important cloud vendor after Amazon and Microsoft.

Out of 24 brokerages covering the stock, eight now have a “buy” or a higher rating; 14 have “hold” and just two “sell.”

Shares of IBM gained 1.7 percent at $166.72 in premarket trading. Up to Tuesday’s close, they have gained nearly 12 percent since its last quarterly results on Oct. 17.

To counter a slowdown in its legacy hardware and software businesses, IBM has been shifting focus steadily towards data analytics and cloud computing services.

The cloud market is currently dominated by Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Azure unit - both of which have been growing in double digits as customers scale up their Internet presence.

“There is room for another cloud player,” Barclays analyst Mark Moskowitz wrote in a note titled “IBM - A New Dawn Emerges” and raised his price target on the stock to $192 from $133.

The company, which will report after U.S. markets close on Thursday, trumped Wall Street’s estimates for both profit and revenue in the third quarter ended Sept. 30.

While total revenue in that quarter fell 0.4 percent, the 22nd straight quarterly fall, it was also the smallest quarterly drop since the third quarter of 2016.

Moskowitz said IBM’s revenue may prove stable or even grow over the next 12-18 months.

He also argued that recently disclosed Spectre and Meltdown processor security flaws could allow IBM to gain share in the mid-range and high-end server market.

IBM last month launched Power9 processors, designed for cloud computing and machine learning, to better compete with the likes of Intel and Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

A fix for Meltdown, which only affects Intel chips, could lower performance by 30 percent in some cases, pushing customers to look for new processors, potentially lifting both IBM’s market share and revenue, Moskowitz wrote.

In a blog post dated Jan. 15, IBM said firmware patches for Power9 platforms were available to fix the security flaws.

From – Reuters

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