Cheaper And Faster Broadband For All

The tech world certainly had its highs and lows in 2018. After years of clamouring for cheaper and faster home broadband, the Mandatory Standard on Access Pricing (MSAP) came into full effect in June, cutting prices for Malaysians.

According to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), this resulted in more than 30% reduction in broadband prices for entry-level packages.

Telekom Malaysia was the first to jump on the bandwagon, reducing its 30Mbps (megabits per second) plan price by 30%, while other providers like Celcom, Maxis and Time also reduced prices by 30% to 65%.

What’s noteworthy was that Time became the first service provider to offer a home broadband plan at 1Gbps (gigabit per second) for RM199. Astro also reduced fees of all existing Astro Maxis IPTV subscribers.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo encouraged telcos to focus on improving broadband speed and reach in rural areas. He said that the Budget 2019’s target to get rural communities high-speed broadband with a minimum speed of 30Mbps within five years was “realistic”.

Major Privacy Violations

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Photo: dpa

Facebook was involved in a huge data scandal in March, when data of some 87 million of its users were obtained without their knowledge by London-based data firm Cambridge Analytica (CA).

Cambridge academic Aleksandr Kogan and his company Global Science Research created an app called “thisisyourdigitallife”, which not only harvested users’ personal data but also that of their Facebook friends.

CA’s former employee turned whistle-blower Christopher Wylie said the data was sold to the political data analytics firm, and reportedly then used to deliver pro-Donald Trump material to Facebook users during the 2016 US elections, potentially swaying the presidential election in his favour.

Facebook was slapped with a £500,000 (RM2.68mil) fine for failing to protect the privacy of its users. There was another security breach in September when hackers gained access to about 50 million user accounts.

Google’s own social network was not spared – in October, the tech giant shut down its Google+ service after a bug had exposed the private information of up to 500,000 users over a long period, though it insisted no data had been misused.

Grab Takes Over Uber

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Photo: Bloomberg/Paul Miller

Stiff competition between Grab and Uber Technologies in Malaysia ended this year when both signed a mutually beneficial deal appointing one e-hailing service as the dominant player while the other made a strategic retreat.

Grab purchased Uber’s Southeast Asian business in March, taking over all of its operations in a region of 620 million people, with Uber taking a 27.5% stake in the Singapore-based Grab and its CEO Dara Khosrowshahi joining Grab’s board.

Grab also acquired Uber’s food delivery service UberEats and launched its own GrabFood service in May.

Cashless Society

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Photo: Samsung

The number of e-wallet digital payment options involving electronic transfers (using mobile devices) that has sprung up in Malaysia has increased, with Bank Negara Malaysia listing 42 e-money issuers in Malaysia so far.

Data measurement company Nielsen Holdings shared that many Malaysians find their mobile devices “indispensable shopping buddies”, which they use to look up product information, compare prices, find coupons or deals.

Popular e-wallets such as Samsung Pay, MaybankPay and AliPay offer versatile digital payment options that can be used anywhere credit and debit cards are accepted.

Rise In Blockchain Adoption

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Photo: 123rf.com

Blockchain is the underlying technology that powers cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Initially, it was just used in financial tech, but more and more tech giants are employing it in other industries.

In PwC’s 2018 Global Blockchain Survey, 84% say their organisations have at least some involvement with blockchain technology, adding that it helps eliminate intermediaries, reduce cost and increase reach, and provides greater transparency in many business processes.

Global research firm Gartner forecasts that blockchain-based businesses will generate more than US$3tril (RM12.5tril) annual business value by 2030, when 10-20% of global economic infrastructure will also be running on blockchain-based systems.