Indonesia’s tourist arrivals rise 8.2% in July


Indonesia’s foreign tourist arrivals rose 8.28% July from a year ago, quickening from June’s increase of 7.84% on the year, according to the statistics bureau.

Official data showed 777,210 tourists visited Indonesia in July, versus 851,500 in June.



Intel & Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom team up on Internet of Things


Intel Corp. and Chunghwa Telecom Co., Taiwan’s largest wireless carrier, signed a memorandum of understanding on the development of technology related to the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and software-defined networking.

Both companies said they will jointly explore the software-defined infrastructure to optimize energy efficiency at cloud data centers.

“Intel is delighted to expand collaboration spanning IoT, cloud and software-defined network with Chunghwa Telecom to realize the vision of (a) ‘Connected Society’ in Taiwan,” said Gordon G. Graylish, Intel’s VP of Sales and Marketing Group and GM of Enterprise Solution Sales.

“We also look forward to supporting Taiwan becoming a global developer and manufacturer of IoT, cloud computing hardware as well as services, and software-defined (networks),” said Graylish.

The collaboration on IoT technology will focus on smart homes, energy management and fleet management. The agreement marks Intel’s first IoT collaboration in Asia with a telecom service provider and is its fifth IoT innovation project worldwide.

Intel and Chunghwa Telecom said they have made remarkable progress in cloud computing deployment since 2010, when they signed a memorandum of understanding on cloud computing collaboration and Chunghwa Telecom became a part of the Open Data Center Alliance.

ONB Philippines sets $9M for branch expansion

The One Network Bank (ONB) has drawn up a $9 million capital expenditure (capex) program to open 30 branches and relocate another four branches by 2016.

ONB is Philippines’ largest rural bank with a branch network of 102, and 150 ATMs at the start of 2014.
“Even with the recent launch of the ONB’s 100th branch in Mati City, Davao Oriental and its 102nd office in the municipality of Estancia in Iloilo, plans to further expand the bank’s branch network to 132 by 2016 are already in the works,” said Alex V. Buenaventura, ONB President and CEO.

The main bulk of the $9 million expenditure will be primarily used to support the construction of 30 new branches in Mindanao and in Panay.

The bank kicks off its expansion program this month with the opening of its 16th office in Davao City located in the new building of Holy Cross of Davao College, an infrastructure project financed by the bank.

Another 10 provincial sites presently under site acquisition process, including two in Cotabato; three in South Cotabato; one in Davao del Sur; one in Compostela Valley; and three in Iloilo.

Furthermore, the allocation will also carry out branching in 13 more areas where branching has been approved but with no identified branch site yet.

The bank will also be allocating a fifth of capex to relocate and expand its four branches in Dipolog City, Piapi and Bunawan in Davao City, and Passi in Iloilo.


Australia’s St George Bank implements biometrics for mobile banking


Australian financial institution St George Bank announced it has implemented fingerprint login for its mobile banking service.

St George’s TouchID functionality will be offered for the iPhone 5S with the expected September release of iOS8, as well on the Galaxy 5 later this year.

According to CIO Dhiren Kulkarni, St George Bank will not store its customers’ fingerprint data on its databases, but instead it will use Apple’s application interface to link its mobile banking app with the fingerprint identification service that is offered on the iPhone 5S.

St George is one of the first global banks to offer internet banking, mobile banking apps, and support for wearables, which includes a Google Glass banking app once the device is released locally.

A Deloitte’s Centre for Financial Services survey published in May found that 63% of respondents considered biometrics valuable in general, while few of them trusted the technology as a payments enabler.

(The Sydney Morning Herald)

Thailand’s Ichitan teas up Indonesia


Thailand’s tea giant Ichitan Group has chosen Indonesia for its first overseas expansion and will launch two green tea products there with the distinctive sweet flavors that have been so popular in its home market – where sales have lately slowed.

Ichitan’s Tan Passakornnatee, center with the sailor cap, is making Indonesia his first port of call overseas for his popular green teas.

Ichitan has a joint venture with Japanese trading house Mitsubishi Corp. and Indonesian retailer Sigmantara Alfindo for production and distribution of ready-to-drink tea and other Ichitan branded beverages.

“Indonesia is a similar market to Thailand,” said Tan Passakornnatee, CEO of Ichitan.

Ichitan products will initially be shipped from Thailand or sub-contracted to local manufacturers in Indonesia. If the market responds well, a factory will be built. Tan is looking to generate $313 million sales in his first new market.

Ichitan was established by Tan in 2010 and is already the largest ready-to-drink tea producer in Thailand with a market share of over 40%. 

Ichitan hopes to generate 35% of its sales in Indonesia and spread its weight overseas. According to Tan, there are as yet no plans for the company to enter other foreign markets. 


Fashion retailer Ralph Lauren to launch wearable bio-technology collection

Major fashion retailer Ralph Lauren announced it has partnered with OMsignal to launch a new apparel collection that will feature sensors knitted into the core of the product to read biological and physiological information.

Developed with proprietary technology from OMsignal, whose team is comprised of experts in the fields of neuroscience, sports medicine and engineering, the Ralph Lauren Polo Tech shirt debuted on the opening day of the U.S. Open.

The OM platform sends a broad range of physiological data through the apparel to the users via an app on their smartphone.

Using OMsignal technology, the data gathered by the shirt is stored by a “black box,” which contains an accelerometer and gyroscope that captures movement and direction.

The “black box” sends this data into the cloud, where it is factored into various algorithms that measure performance-oriented biometrics, such as heartbeat and respiration, as well as some psychometrics, including stress level and energy output.

The Ralph Lauren Polo Tech shirt signals the company’s growing presence in the wearable technology market.


New industrial zone planned for eastern edge of Yangon, Myanmar


The planned Kyisu Industrial Zone will be built to international standards on a 125-acre zone on the eastern outskirts of Yangon for both local and foreign businesses, the vice president of the Yangon regional government said.

A proposal for the project was presented to Vice-president Nyan Htun at the forum on industrial zones held earlier this week.

The zone, which will be located in eastern Dagon Myothit Township, is one of several in the pipeline that aim to encourage domestic and foreign investors to set up factories in the region.  

Industrial zones face several challenges in terms of infrastructure and management, the forum was told. These include waste disposal, sewage systems, and lack of electricity. Officials told the forum that the main purpose of the zones was to create employment.

“The major investor for the Kyisu project will be selected soon as the zone is earmarked to be built this fiscal year,” an official said on condition of anonymity. “We’ll do our best to provide a decent sewage system and waste management,” the official added.

 There are about 4,000 factories at 29 industrial zones in the region. The industrial sector generated an estimated 36% of the region’s gross domestic product.

(Eleven Myanmar)

Japanese eatery Ootoya to accelerate Asian expansion


Ootoya Holdings, the Tokyo-based operator of the Ootoya restaurant chain, is ramping up its overseas expansion drive. The company will in November open its first restaurant in Vietnam — an outlet serving set meals in Ho Chi Minh City.

Ootoya Holdings hopes to cash in on rising overseas demand for Japanese cuisine among middle- and high-income consumers.

The company currently operates about 80 restaurants in six countries and regions. It plans to boost the number to 100 in the current fiscal year ending in March 2015.

For the Vietnamese outlet, Ootoya Holdings will partner with a local company under a franchise formula. The menu will be nearly identical to the one used in Japan, including meals featuring grilled fish.

The company already operates set-meal outlets in New York. The planned addition will be its first tempura restaurant there.

Ootoya Holdings will also team up with major Thai retailer Central Group to boost the number of its restaurants, especially in Thailand, where it currently has some 40 franchise outlets.

While there are many upscale Japanese restaurants abroad, there are relatively few that serve authentic Japanese meals at affordable prices. Ootoya Holdings is trying to develop this niche.


Turkey, Japan sign $1.7B gas-to-liquids project with Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan, holder of the world’s fourth-largest natural gas reserves, signed a $1.7 billion deal with a Turkish-Japanese consortium on Tuesday to build a gas-to-liquids plant as part of its strategy to maximize revenues from its gas riches.

“This is the first gas processing facility in the world which will employ a high-end technology to process natural gas into gasoline,” Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.

The project will be implemented by Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Turkey’s Ronesans Endustri Tesisleri. “It will produce here annually 600,000 tonnes of gasoline with octane rating of 92. The cost of the project is estimated at $1.7 billion,” Berdymukhamedov said

The plant will process annually 1.785 billion cubic meters of natural gas, Berdymukhamedov said.