Singapore, Amazon lead push for 'purpose bound' digital money

PLUS: US joins India’s software diplomacy push; Suzuki to make flying cars; Indonesia's broadband bird

Asia In Brief Singapore's central bank, the Monetary Authority (MAS), last week published a white paper that proposes the concept of "Purpose Bound Money" (PBM).

As the white paper [PDF] explains, PBM contains "digital money as a store of value and programming logic denoting its use based on programmed conditions." Once those conditions are met, "digital money is released, and it becomes unbounded once again."

Amazon, Asian business finance platform FAZZ and Singaporean superapp Grab are collaborating on an e-commerce use case for PBM that "allows payment to be released to the merchant only when the customer receives the items purchased."

If PBM becomes reality, that could mean your credit card isn't charged for goods you buy online until the courier knocks on your door.

Another purpose of PBM is improving interoperability between tokenized assets – such as central bank digital currencies backed by governments.

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The white paper was co-authored by MAS, the International Monetary Fund, and the central banks of Italy and South Korea. Amazon and Grab are two of nine partners in the project.

US joins India's software-driven diplomacy push

The US has signed up to advance India's software-driven diplomacy push – an effort epitomized by IndiaStack, India's own e-government tools for tasks such as ID-as-a-service, payments, and COVID vaccination booking, which it shares with other governments at no charge.

News of the team-up appeared in the 39th of 57 announcements made in the joint statement resulting from Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's state visit to Washington last week.

"The United States and India recognize the potential of Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) approaches for enabling open and inclusive digital economies," the statement reads. "President Biden and prime minister Modi intend to work together to provide global leadership for the implementation of DPI to promote inclusive development, competitive markets, and protect individual rights."

The two nations pledged to "explore how to partner together and align our efforts to advance the development and deployment of robust DPIs" and also to consider "developing a US-India Global Digital Development Partnership, which would bring together technology and resources from both countries to enable development and deployment of DPIs in developing countries."

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The US endorsement of India's efforts is significant. India uses the availability of India Stack to differentiate itself – particularly from China, which prefers to assist its neighbors to develop physical infrastructure.

Japan's Suzuki to make flying cars

Japanese automaker Suzuki last week announced it will start making flying cars in 2024.

The cars will be built on a design created by Japanese startup SkyDrive, which will establish a wholly owned subsidiary that will work in a Suzuki factory.

"Suzuki will also cooperate with the manufacturing subsidiary in securing human resources and making other preparations for the start of manufacturing," states SkyDrive's media release.

The vehicle boasts a dozen rotors and seats three, including the pilot. The battery-powered beast has a range of just 15km, and flies at 100km/h.

Skydrive flying e-car

Skydrive's eponymous flying car – Click to enlarge

Indonesia celebrates internet satellite launch

Indonesia last week celebrated the launch of SATRIA-1 – a satellite capable of providing internet services across the 18,000-island nation.

The satellite is can handle 150Gbit/sec of traffic, making it Asia's most capable and one of the world's top five broadband-beaming birds.

Indonesia will use it to target remote and underserved regions, of which there are many among the abovementioned 18,000 islands.

Indonesia's government has hailed the launch as a boost to the digital economy, and a welcome improvement to connectivity for facilities such as schools, hospitals, and police and military installations.

The satellite was built by Thales and launched by SpaceX.

Hong Kong's unofficial anthem fades out before ban

Glory to Hong Kong, the protest song that pushes back against Beijing's recent crackdown on democracy and has become the special administrative region's unofficial anthem, has started to disappear from online services after the local government sought an injunction to ban the tune.

However, Hong Kong's courts deferred the government's application until July 21.

The song has nonetheless all but disappeared as major streaming platforms such as YouTube and Spotify have removed the song. The latter said it did so at the behest of distributors, rather than Hong Kong authorities.

The song reportedly shot to the top of the Hong Kong iTunes chart once the government announced its intention to seek a ban.

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China passes 1.2 billion 5G subs

China's appetite for 5G remains voracious, with the nation's carriers reporting they now have a collective 1.2 billion subscribers.

The Middle Kingdom's big three carriers – China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom – each publish monthly subscriber data. For May, the three reported 706.96 million, 290.6 million, and 223.8 million 5G subs respectively.

That's 1.221 billion 5G subs in total.

As The Register reported at the time, the three carriers' 5G customer count topped one billion for the first time in September 2022. May's figures suggest the three have added another 200 million subs in the eight months since.

In other news …

Our regional coverage from last week included news that Huawei is putting the squeeze on licensees to get more out of its patents.

Korean cryptocurrency fugitive Do Kwon faced sentencing in Montenegro.

Mega-manufacturer Foxconn is having an each-way bet on whether the US and China will settle their differences.

Chinese giant Alibaba announced major restructure in its executive suite as the CEO moves over to run the cloud biz.

Japan's much-vaunted digital push ran into turbulence amid privacy concerns.

And the US cyber ambassador warned that China has developed a playbook to achieve dominance in tech by stealing IP – and it's using it to make up lost ground in cloud and AI. ®

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