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Archive for December 11th, 2015

Force Awakens in Hong Kong: LEGO Star Wars at Times Square

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HONG KONG/PRNewswire/ — Tens of thousands of kids and adults are experiencing the magic of Jedis at the world’s first-ever LEGO Star Wars exhibition being held at Times Square in Hong Kong.

Star Wars exhibition at Times Square features a special collection of exclusive models of film replicas and toys.
Star Wars exhibition at Times Square features a special collection of exclusive models of film replicas and toys.


The world’s largest Millennium Falcon mode, at 1:6 scale is also on display at Times Square.
The world’s largest Millennium Falcon mode, at 1:6 scale is also on display at Times Square.

Riding the momentum of the highly anticipated, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the show features a collection of exclusive models of the blockbusters series’ characters and vehicles, including the Rebel Snowspeeder, Imperial AT-AT and Poe’s X-Wing Fighter. The world’s largest Millennium Falcon mode, at 1:6 scale is also on display, along with the First Order’s Transporter and more than 30 First Order Stormtroopers in a diorama of the Battle of Jakku. The exhibition runs until 3 January 2016.

About Times Square

Situated at Causeway Bay, the most vibrant district in Hong Kong, Times Square is one of the most popular tourist spots, favorite shopping and dining places of the region, and the most vibrant mega-mall in town with foot traffic over 150 thousand each day.

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Source: Times Square

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December 11, 2015 at 6:19 pm

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Biosafe and Stemlife Sign a Long Term Supply Agreement

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EYSINS, Switzerland and KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia /PRNewswire/ — Biosafe and StemLife Bhd. are pleased to announce that they have signed a long-term Supply Agreement in respect of StemLife’s cord blood banking activities in Malaysia.

Effective immediately, Biosafe is supplying its fully automated Sepax® cell processor and associated single use kits to StemLife, which will use Biosafe technology for all its cord blood processing requirements.

Today most Netcord-affiliated public cord blood banks use Biosafe technology for processing, as do quality-conscious private cord blood banks around the world.

Olivier Waridel, CEO of the Biosafe Group commented: “We are delighted to be entering into a long term agreement with such a prestigious company as StemLife. This is an important win for us as we are replacing a competitor’s cell processing system, further increasing our footprint in Asia.”

Sophian Bin Abdul Rahman, CEO of StemLife Bhd commented: “We are very pleased to find in Biosafe Group, a partner who shares our core values of Care, Competence, Commitment and Credibility. State-of-the-art technology notwithstanding, Biosafe’s strong local support ensures that StemLife will continue to provide peace of mind to all our clients that their cord blood units will always be processed in a timely and reliable manner.”

About the Biosafe Group

Founded in 1997 the Biosafe Group is active in the design, manufacture and marketing of automated cell processing systems. Headquartered in Switzerland and privately-owned, the Biosafe Group operates through regional subsidiaries (Geneva, Houston, Hong-Kong, Shanghai and São Paulo) and is present in more than 50 countries, either directly or through distributors.

About StemLife Bhd.

StemLife was founded in 2001 and was the first cord blood bank in Malaysia. It was also the first and only listed cord blood bank on the Malaysian Stock Exchange since 2006. Collectively, more than 60,000 families have entrusted their baby’s cord stem cells with StemLife in its Malaysia and Thailand facilities. In 2014, Cordlife Group Limited took a 31% stake in StemLife Malaysia making StemLife part of the largest cord blood banking group inSouth East Asia region with more than 120,000 cord blood units stored. To-date, StemLife has successfully released 15 cord blood units for transplantation.

For further information:

Christopher Bolton
Biosafe Group SA

Ms. Lu Lu Peh
Head, Marcoms
StemLife Bhd.

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Source: Biosafe Group
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December 11, 2015 at 6:10 pm

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Arab Knowledge Index Launched to Measure Status of Knowledge in Arab Countries Annually

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DUBAI, UAE /PRNewswire/ —

Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have launched the first edition of the Arab Knowledge Index, a systematic mechanism to monitor the status of knowledge in the Arab countries every year.

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Announcing this at a press conference during the Knowledge Summit 2015 in Dubai, Jamal bin Huwaireb, Managing Director of MBRF, said the index has been developed after a year of field research, in-depth studies and reviews and a series of workshops conducted in a number of Arab and international countries such as Morocco, Jordan, the US, France and the UK.

The Arab Knowledge Index comprises six main indices covering the most vital sectors that represent the knowledge levels in every Arab country. These indices are: Pre-university education; Higher education; Vocational education and training; Research & development and innovation; Information technology and communication; and Economic sector.

Bin Huwaireb said: “The Arab Knowledge Index takes into account national, historical and cultural characters of each Arab country separately, and is flexible enough to be adopted in several countries with different development levels. The index does not aim to create rankings, but is a scientific tool that describes the status of knowledge in the Arab region. It establishes a road map for the economic and societal development strategies.”

Bin Huwaireb also stated that while this year the Arab Knowledge Index features only Arab countries, efforts are on to include all Islamic countries in the Index from next year onwards.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Sima Bahouth, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States in the UNDP, said the Arab Knowledge Index will serve as a pragmatic tool to establish sustainable development in the region.

“We live in turbulent times and the region is losing focus in the area of knowledge, leading to spurts in extremism and other issues of concern. Qualitative education can help eradicate poverty and unemployment in the region and help establish development channels in the region,” Dr. Bahouth added.

The findings of the Arab Knowledge Index are available on the ‘Knowledge 4 All’ portal, launched by MBRF in cooperation with UNDP at the Knowledge Summit. The portal is a digital reference hub for researchers, professionals, students, stakeholders and the general public for various data and publications on knowledge-related topics. Apart from the Arab Knowledge Index, the ‘Knowledge 4 All’ portal features three Arab Knowledge Reports published between 2009 and 2014 and other research reports.

The Knowledge Summit 2015 is organized by MBRF, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The Summit is being held from December 7 to 9 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Dubai.

Source: Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF)

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December 11, 2015 at 5:20 pm

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Nearly Two-Thirds of Equity Analysts Expect Regulatory Pressures on Global Banks to Increase Over the Next Five Years, According to Broadridge Report

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-Survey of 150 Analysts in U.S., Europe, Asia Cites So-Called “Basel IV” Rules as Key Challenge

LAKE SUCCESS, New York/PRNewswire/ — Nearly two-thirds of equity analysts (61 percent) who cover global capital markets institutions expect regulatory pressures on banks to intensify further through 2020, with potential new capital rules, informally known as “Basel IV,” likely to have the greatest effect on their operations, according to a global survey of nearly 150 buy-side and sell-side analysts. The first-of-its-kind survey, developed by Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: BR), canvassed analysts across the U.S., Europe and Asia on their outlook for banks and their views on the industry’s opportunities and challenges over the next five years.

According to the report, “Restructuring for Profitability,” more than two-thirds of analysts (68 percent) believe regulation has made the financial system safer. But, they are also concerned about “regulatory creep” and its potential impacts on the industry. Although so-called “Basel IV” rules are still under discussion, nearly three-quarters of the analysts surveyed (72 percent) believe these rules – which are expected to standardize the risk-weighting of bank assets – will have the biggest regulatory impacts in the next five years. Among European analysts, 87 percent held this view. U.S. analysts surveyed are primarily concerned with the future effects of annual stress tests (cited by 77 percent).

New regulation will have the most impact on banks’ trading operations through 2020, according to the study:

  • More than three-quarters of analysts (78 percent) expect regulations to disrupt equity-trading business models over the next five years. Ninety-two percent expect FICC trading business models to be disrupted, including 28 percent of analysts who characterize these changes as “dramatic.”
  • While analysts predict revenue growth rates to increase across business lines, compared to the period between 2010 and 2014, trading growth is expected to recover but remain relatively muted. FICC, which experienced annualized declines of 8.5 percent over the previous four-year period, is expected to grow at 0.2 percent, while annual equity trading growth is estimated at 2.8 percent, versus 1.7 percent previously.

“Regulation has imposed tougher capital rules on banks, creating pressure on traditional models,” said Broadridge Senior Vice President of Strategy Vijay Mayadas, who oversaw the study. “This means that banks will need to explore more creative ways to realign their operations and employ more transformative measures to reduce costs.”

Favoring Cost Reduction, Restructuring

Analysts generally favor bank responses focused on cost reduction – above efforts in balance-sheet management and top-line growth – or restructuring. More than half believe banks over the past five years were not aggressive enough at re-engineering business processes (55 percent) and investing in new technology (54 percent) to improve efficiencies. More than half (55 percent) sees back-office technology as having high potential to increase efficiency and reduce costs over the next five years, with another 30 percent citing some potential.

A key challenge facing these institutions is how to streamline the technology and operations that enable equities and fixed income trading. Commenting in the report, Brad Hintz, a top-ranked banking analyst for more than a decade and now adjunct professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business who advised on the study, said, “Wall Street has cut back in each silo but done very little re-engineering across the business.”

Three-Speed Industry Transformation

The survey spotlights major differences in how analysts across the U.S., Europe and Asia foresee the industry evolving over the next five years:

  • U.S. analysts are the most positive about the outlook for global banks and had the most upbeat predictions for revenue growth across nearly all lines of business. Similarly, they expect return-on-equity to double from 2014 levels over the next five years, essentially meeting the cost of capital. European and Asian analysts also expect banks’ returns to increase substantially, but still fall short of average equity capital costs.
  • European analysts advocate most strongly for restructuring and cost reduction. More than half (58 percent) cited “significant opportunity” in rationalizing and disposing business units to improve performance, compared to 38 percent of U.S. analysts and 40 percent of Asia analysts. Forty-five percent of European analysts believe cost controls will have the greatest impact on bank valuations over the next five years—above balance-sheet management or growth—compared to 39 percent of U.S. analysts and 28 percent of Asia analysts.
  • Asian analysts hold the strongest views on regulatory changes. Nearly half (49 percent) believe that new regulations since the 2008 financial crisis have not notably improved the stability of the financial system, compared with 22 percent of U.S. analysts. They were nearly twice as likely as U.S. analysts (75 percent vs. 39 percent) to predict regulatory pressures on global securities firms will increase—rather than remain the same or decrease—over the next five years.

“These trans-oceanic differences reflect a three-speed industry transformation,” added Mayadas. “Put simply, U.S. banks have adapted more quickly to the post-crisis environment. Many of the most persistent cost challenges are still common across regions, but rulemaking will weigh more heavily on Europe and Asia in the years to come.”

The report is based on qualitative interviews with top-ranking analysts and a global survey of 147 buy-side and sell-side analysts (56 percent and 44 percent, respectively). Broadridge, Brad Hintz, adjunct professor of finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business, Institutional Investor Custom Research Group (IIRG), and various capital markets experts collaborated in the design of the survey and analysis of results. IIRG fielded the survey online between June and September 2015. Respondents included analysts in North America (33 percent), Europe(29 percent), Asia (30 percent) and other geographies (7 percent). The sample consisted of buy-side voters and sell-side nominees from II’s annual rankings; it represents 10 to 15 percent of the overall population, according to IIRG.

About Broadridge
Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: BR) is the leading provider of investor communications and technology-driven solutions for broker-dealers, banks, mutual funds and corporate issuers globally. Broadridge’s investor communications, securities processing and managed services solutions help clients reduce their capital investments in operations infrastructure, allowing them to increase their focus on core business activities. With over 50 years of experience, Broadridge’s infrastructure underpins proxy voting services for over 90% of public companies and mutual funds in North America, and processes on average $5 trillion in equity and fixed income trades per day. Broadridge employs approximately 7,400 full-time associates in 14 countries. For more information about Broadridge, please

Media Contacts

Kate McGann         

Brett Philbin





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Source: Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc.

Written by asiafreshnews

December 11, 2015 at 5:10 pm

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IBM Expands Green Horizons Initiative Globally To Address Pressing Environmental and Pollution Challenges

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-Programs to Benefit Citizens in Beijing, New Delhi, Johannesburg and Other Cities
-Machine Learning and IoT Technologies Improve Accuracy of Environmental Forecasting

BEIJING and ARMONK, New York /PRNewswire/ — IBM Research (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it will expand its Green Horizons initiative globally to enable city governments, utility companies and factories to better understand and improve their relationships with the environment and to help tackle pressing issues related to air pollution and climate change.

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Today’s announcement builds on a successful year-long collaboration with the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB), expanding to include over a dozen commercial deals and research engagements on four continents. IBM’s China Research lab is working with the Beijing EPB to provide one of the world’s most advanced air quality forecasting and decision support systems, able to generate high-resolution 1km-by-1km pollution forecasts 72 hours in advance and pollution trend predictions up to 10 days into the future. It models and predicts the effects of weather on the flow and dispersal of pollutants as well as the airborne chemical reactions between weather and pollutant particles. In the first three quarters of this year, the Beijing government was able to achieve a 20 percent reduction in ultra-fine Particulate Matter, bringing it closer to its goal of reducing PM 2.5 by 25 percent by 2017.

The new Green Horizons engagements apply IBM’s advanced machine learning and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to ingest and learn from vast amounts of Big Data, constantly self-configuring and improving in accuracy to create some of the world’s most accurate energy and environmental forecasting systems. They include:

  • An agreement with the Delhi Dialogue Commission to understand the correlation between traffic patterns and air pollution in India’s capital and provide the government with ‘what if’ scenario modelling to support more informed decision-making for cleaner air.
  • A pilot program with the City of Johannesburg and South Africa’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research to model air pollution trends and quantify the effectiveness of the city’s intervention programs in support ofJohannesburg’s air quality targets and long-term sustainable development.
  • Additional clean air projects in China with the Environmental Protection Bureau in Baoding (one of China’s most polluted cities) to support the city’s environmental transformation; the city of Zhangjiakou (host to the 2022 Winter Olympics) to improve air quality for the outdoor sporting event; and Xinjiang Province in north-westChina.

In addition, the program is delivering on its promise to help increase contributions of wind, solar and other renewable energy sources in to national grids. New customer engagements include:

  • UK energy giant SSE is piloting IBM technology to help forecast power generation at its wind farms in Great Britain. The system is able to forecast energy for individual turbines and includes visualization tools to show expected performance several days ahead.
  • In Japan, IBM is working with the Toyo Engineering Corporation and renewable energy company Setouchi Future Creations LLC on the Setouchi solar project — one of the largest in the country. IBM’s monitoring systems will help Setouchi manage and control energy from the plant’s 890,000 solar panels.
  • Through the United States Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative, IBM is making renewable energy forecasting technology available to government agencies, utilities and grid operators across the United Statesto support supply and demand planning.
  • IBM is working with China’s largest wind power solution provider – Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., Ltd to use IoT, cloud computing, big data analytics and other advanced technologies to drive innovation and transform Goldwind’s business and technological models. Also in China, Shenyang Keywind Renewable Company is using cognitive forecasting technologies to help integrate more energy into the grid.
  • The Zhangbei Demonstration Project, managed by China’s State Grid Jibei Electricity Power Company, is tapping the power of Green Horizons renewable energy forecasting technology to integrate 10 percent more alternative energy into the national grid, enough to power more than 14,000 homes.

“Even as society is looking to address some of the biggest challenges of our generation — environmental degradation and climate change — two game-changing technologies have emerged that are completely transforming our understanding of the world in which we live,” said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director, IBM Research. “With Green Horizons, we are applying the most advanced cognitive computing and IoT technologies, combined with world-class analytics, to enable forward-looking government and business leaders in their efforts to make better decisions that can help safeguard the health of citizens today while helping to protect the long-term health of the planet.”

“Air pollution and climate change are global challenges that require stronger action by government and business,” said Bob Perciasepe, president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES). “To get to a clean energy future, we need accurate data about emissions, air quality and power generation. Advanced technologies can provide crucial insights about our impacts on the environment — today and in the future.”

New Initiatives Build on Success of IBM Clean Air Partnership in Beijing

IBM’s Green Horizons initiative is based on innovations from the company’s Research Laboratory in Beijing, with contributions from leading environmental experts across IBM’s global network of research labs. To help address the issue of air pollution — considered to be the greatest environmental threat to human health — IBM has developed next-generation pollution forecasting and management systems which draw on vast amounts of Big Data from environmental monitoring stations, weather stations, traffic cameras as well as meteorological and environmental satellites. Cognitive technologies understand this data, and use it to tune a predictive model that shows where the pollution is coming from, where it will likely go, and what will be its potential effect, allowing more informed decisions about how to improve air quality. Machine learning technologies ensure that the system automatically adjusts the predictive models to different seasons and topographies.

“In the past two decades China has been at the center of global manufacturing and economic growth,” said Dr.Xiaowei Shen, Director, IBM Research – China. “However, this great progress has come at a cost and today the Chinese government has placed air pollution and climate change high on the national agenda. With Chinese investments into green innovation worth billions of dollars and with a new budding generation of environmental scientists coming to the fore, China is the natural starting point for IBM’s Green Horizons initiative which is now being exported to other parts of the world.”

To support China’s clean air action plan, IBM has entered a number of collaborations across the country. Building on their existing relationship, IBM and the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau are launching a new Joint Environmental Innovation Center that will provide decision support capabilities to the Beijing government. Using scenario modelling, the government will be able to optimize its emission reduction strategy and achieve a balance between clean air and continued economic growth. Measures include short term limitations on urban traffic and construction activity as well as long term improvements to industrial production and power generation – such as switching to cleaner energy sources and installing filtering systems. The Beijing EPB also uses a colored alert system to warn citizens when harmful levels of pollution are forecast for the coming days. Selective, temporary reductions in industrial activity are also considered for large scale events such as the 2022 Winter Olympics.

“Our environmental engineers are working on a daily basis to tackle Beijing’s complex and challenging pollution problem and protect the health of citizens,” said Dawei Zhang, Director of Beijing’s Environmental Monitoring Center, a department of the BEPB. “Through our collaboration with IBM Research – China, we are delivering on our environmental commitments with the help of some of the most advanced technologies available. Over the past year we made good progress and the joint innovation with IBM is one of the key driving forces behind it.”

Building on these results, IBM is also working in the Chinese city of Baoding with the local Environmental Protection Bureau and environmental service provider Encanwell to improve the air quality in one of China’s most polluted cities. Pollution source tracking analyzes current emissions and prevailing weather patterns to identify the likely origin of pollution – a powerful tool for environmental law enforcement at industrial parks, factories and power stations.

“Our aim is to reduce PM2.5 by 33 percent over the next two years – IBM’s pollution analytics and forecasting technologies will help us to achieve this,” said Jimin Zhao, Lead Researcher at Baoding City Environmental Protection Bureau. “Using Green Horizons to track the source of pollution, we can take rapid, targeted action to reduce emissions. For example, we can require that heavily polluting enterprises install filtering systems, use smokeless fuels or we can even consider closing or relocating factories and power plants in the long term.”

About IBM Research

Now in its 70th year, IBM Research continues to define the future of information technology with more than 3,000 researchers in 12 labs located across six continents. Scientists from IBM Research have produced six Nobel Laureates, 10 U.S. National Medals of Technology, five U.S. National Medals of Science, six Turing Awards, 19 inductees in the National Academy of Sciences and 14 inductees into the U.S. National Inventors Hall of Fame — the most of any company.

For more information on IBM Research, please visit

For Green Horizon photos, please visit:

For Green Horizons B-roll, please visit:

For more info about the Green Horizons initiative and a film about the work in China, please visit:


Jonathan Jessop Batty
IBM Global Labs
+44 7880 086571

Jim Lin
IBM China

Christine Vu
IBM Research Headquarters
+1 415-794-2356


Source: IBM

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December 11, 2015 at 5:05 pm

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Omidyar Network Leads Investment in Technology that Enables Central Banks to Issue Digital Fiat Currency

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-First-ever central bank-backed digital currency can accelerate the digitization of transactions, infuse trust in payments systems, and drive greater financial inclusion

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. /PRNewswire/ — Omidyar Network announced today a for-profit investment in eCurrency Mint (eCM), a Dublin-based company that has pioneered a new technology that enables central banks to issue digital fiat currency, called eCurrency. eCurrency is different from the various forms of private sector digital value available today because it is issued by a central bank and has the same legal and monetary status as notes and coins.

eCurrency is more than a ledger. It is an end-to-end solution that combines hardware, software, and cryptographic security protocols to enable a country’s central bank to not only issue digital fiat currency, but also fully manage its operation, including the ability to monitor its movement through payments systems in near-real time.

Omidyar Network made the investment through the firm’s Financial Inclusion initiative, which focuses on supporting innovative technologies to massively increase reach and scale impact of affordable, convenient, and flexible financial services to consumers and small businesses globally. Funds raised during the Series C round, which Omidyar Network led, will make eCM’s ground-breaking technology available to central banks around the world, enabling them to evolve their national currencies efficiently and securely and to keep pace with today’s digital world.

“Paper-based money is becoming an antiquated tool in an increasingly digital economy. Those who rely heavily on cash to conduct their financial lives are often locked out of the formal financial system and the opportunities it presents,” said Tilman Ehrbeck, partner at Omidyar Network. “eCurrency can help accelerate financial inclusion by turning today’s digital value systems into sovereign-backed national currencies, increasing trust, and addressing key issues currently hindering the adoption of digital value systems, such as interoperability.”

eCurrency also delivers major savings to governments and taxpayers: The cost of minting and distributing eCurrency is around one-tenth of the cost of printing, securing, distributing, and eventually destroying paper-based money. The solution works seamlessly across all existing payments systems and current infrastructures, and it can be customized to comply with nation-specific security and regulatory frameworks.  It was developed based on feedback through direct engagement with 30 central banks and has been successfully piloted in multiple countries.

“As technological advancements have connected people globally, the payments industry has provided them with better, digital ways to transact. If we think of digital transaction platforms as a system of pipes, then mobile has added the last miles of these pipes, and the internet is reaching people at the farthest corners of the world. But as this digital revolution has been taking place, the issuance of currency has essentially remained the same,” saidJonathan Dharmapalan, founder and CEO of eCM. “eCurrency will enable central banks to issue a single, safe digital currency instrument running through these pipes, making the entire system more secure, transparent, efficient, and, more importantly, trustworthy, as it is now backed by the country’s central bank.”

How it works

Once the technology is acquired by a country’s central bank, eCurrency can only be minted by the central bank in an offline process. Each unit of eCurrency consists of a “cryptocomplex”: A self-contained security instrument made up of many layers of security technology uniquely bound together to ensure eCurrency cannot be counterfeited or compromised. After deployment, eCurrency’s security features can be updated real-time, in order to stay ahead of counterfeiting threats.

Once each unit of eCurrency has been created by the central bank, it is transported in digital form within a secure storage device to payments systems, such as banks and other financial providers, using the same existing delivery mechanisms available today for notes and coins. Those institutions then load eCurrency into their systems, making it available publicly for transacting.

Because each unit of eCurrency is equipped with a self-aware, unique identifier, the central bank can monitor the movement of eCurrency through payments systems in near real-time and continuously add up the money supply to ensure that the amount issued is the same as the amount in circulation at all times.

Economic benefits

There is a large body of evidence indicating that shifting to digital transactions boosts economic growth. A Moody’s study shows that electronic payments added US$983 billion or 0.17 percentage points annually to economic growth across 51 countries that accounted accounted for 93 percent of global GDP between 2008 and 2012. The study found this was the equivalent of creating 1.2 million additional jobs. During that period, the report estimates electronic payments added 0.8 percent to GDP in developing economies and 0.3 percent to GDP in developed economies.i

A research study by Citigroup and Imperial College estimates that 10 percent growth in the adoption of digital money across 90 countries will bring 220 million more people into the formal financial sector, add US$1 trillion of new flows in the formal economy, and lead to US$150 billion of additional consumer spending and US$100 billionmore in tax collections.ii eCurrency can help accelerate the migration from paper-based transactions to digital transactions, solving issues currently hampering its growth, such as payments systems interoperability.

About Omidyar Network

Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. Omidyar Network has committed more than US$879 million to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple initiatives, including Consumer Internet & Mobile, Education, Financial Inclusion, Governance & Citizen Engagement, and Property Rights. To learn more, visit, and follow on Twitter @omidyarnetwork #PositiveReturns.

Issuing Organization:
Omidyar Network

i  The Impact of Electronic Payments on Economic Growth. Moody’s Analytics, February 2013
ii  Digital Money: A Pathway to an Experience Economy. Citigroup and Imperial College, January 2015

Source: Omidyar Network
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December 11, 2015 at 5:02 pm

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New Study Released in Malaysia Today Demonstrates Indoor Building Environment has Significant, Positive Impact on Cognitive Function

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia /PRNewswire/ — Improved indoor environmental quality doubled participants’ scores on cognitive function tests, according to a new study by researchers at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, SUNY Upstate Medical University and Syracuse University. The study was released in Malaysia today. Primary support for the study came from United Technologies (NYSE: UTX) and its UTC Climate, Controls & Security business.

The study was conducted at the Total Indoor Environmental Quality Laboratory at the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Syracuse, New York.
The study was conducted at the Total Indoor Environmental Quality Laboratory at the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Syracuse, New York.


Study participants’ cognitive function was measured daily within the environmentally controlled space at the Total Indoor Environmental Quality Laboratory at the Syracuse Center of Excellence.
Study participants’ cognitive function was measured daily within the environmentally controlled space at the Total Indoor Environmental Quality Laboratory at the Syracuse Center of Excellence.


Scientists controlled indoor environmental quality to simulate conventional and green building conditions from the space directly beneath the participants’ office environment at the Syracuse Center of Excellence.
Scientists controlled indoor environmental quality to simulate conventional and green building conditions from the space directly beneath the participants’ office environment at the Syracuse Center of Excellence.


The Impact of Green Buildings on Cognitive Function” study found that employees’ cognitive performance scores averaged 101 per cent higher in green building environments with enhanced ventilation compared to a conventional building environment.

“When it comes to the decision-making ability of green building occupants, intelligence is in the air,” said John Mandyck, United Technologies Chief Sustainability Officer. “We know green buildings conserve natural resources, minimize environmental impacts and improve the indoor environment, but these results show they can also become important human resource tools for all indoor environments where cognitive abilities are critical to productivity, learning and safety.

“The payback for improved indoor environmental quality far outweighs the investment, considering that more than 90 per cent of the costs associated with a building are related to the people who work within it once construction is completed,” he added.

“In the past month, Malaysians have breathed a collective sigh of relief at the end of haze season, which brings an anticipated improvement in outdoor air quality. The results of this study signal that we should place equal importance on the improved indoor air quality provided by green buildings, not only for health reasons, but also to improve cognitive function and productivity,” said Chong Wai Yen, managing director, Carrier Malaysia.

The double-blind study evaluated the cognitive performance of 24 participants who experienced conditions in a laboratory setting that simulate those found in conventional and green buildings, as well as green buildings with enhanced ventilation. Researchers measured cognitive function for nine functional domains, including basic, applied and focused activity levels; task orientation; crisis response; information seeking; information usage; breadth of approach; and strategy.

The largest improvements in cognitive function test scores occurred in the areas of crisis response, information usage and strategy.

  • Crisis response scores were 97 percent higher for the green environment and 131 percent higher for the green environment with enhanced ventilation and lower carbon dioxide levels compared to the conventional environment.
  • Information usage scores for green and enhanced green environments were 172 and 299 percent higher than in the conventional environment, respectively.
  • For strategy, green and enhanced green scores were 183 and 288 percent higher than the conventional environment.

The Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard Chan School and SUNY Upstate Medical are launching a second phase of research, which will move from the lab into real buildings across the United States. This research will also be supported by a gift from United Technologies.

The full report is available at and Follow the discussion on Twitter using the hashtags #COGfxStudy and #IntelligenceInTheAir.

About UTC Climate, Controls & Security

UTC Climate, Controls & Security is a leading provider of heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration systems, building controls and automation, and fire and security systems leading to safer, smarter, sustainable and high-performance buildings. UTC Climate, Controls & Security is a unit of United Technologies Corp., a leading provider to the aerospace and building systems industries worldwide. For more information, follow @UTC_CCS on Twitter.

About United Technologies

United Technologies Corp., based in Farmington, Connecticut, provides high-technology systems and services to the building and aerospace industries. To learn more about UTC, visit the website at or follow the company on Twitter: @UTC.

Please find the appendix here.

Cai Li

Danny Tan

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Source: United Technologies Corporation

Related stocks: NYSE:UTX

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December 11, 2015 at 4:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

VPower Awarded Two New Gas-based Distributed Power Projects in Myanmar

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-Having begun supplying power directly to Myanmar’s 230 kV transmission grid for just 10 months, VPower is awarded two more milestone projects for a total capacity to 223MW for the country to date.

HONG KONG/PRNewswire/ — VPower Group, one of the fastest growing fast-track distributed power providers just signed two power generation contract arrangements with Myanmar’s state electricity enterprise, for the Economic Zone of Kyauk Phyu and key industrial city Myingyan, both for over the period of fiveyears.

In Kyauk Phyu, VPower will be doubling the power generation output to 90MW to be injected directly to the existing 230kV transmission network. The current 45MW power plant won the recognition of being among Fast-track Power Plant of Year in August. Just like the award-winning installation, it is set to be brought online in 120 days.

The 133MW power installation in Myingyan will power the state-owned steel mill. Securing a reliable supply of electricity is key to operating the electric arc furnace economically. This latest power plant will take into account the voltage fluctuations and a first technical challenge of its kind for VPower. It will also connect directly to the existing 230kV lines located close to the mill.

Both distributed power projects will be constructed in parallel and is set to going into operation in March 2016. Running on natural gas, the two plants will have the advantage of much lower emissions and better efficiency than that of traditional fuels, and will stand out as the more cost-effective power solution. VPower’s leading technology in gas generator sets and power modules packs more power per unit, making it one of the most economical power installations on the market.

Kenny Li, Commercial Director of VPower said, “Driving sustained economic growth makes reliable power generation Myanmar’s key priorities. The project builds upon our experience and will further our strong track record in gas engine-based power generation capabilities.”

“VPower’s mission is to address the urgent power demand as cost-effectively as possible, and our mobile containerized power units are among the most flexible and effective solutions, one that’s available via flexibility contract arrangements to address immediate power needs.”

VPower invests more than USD300m in new, environmentally responsible rental power technologies. The investment will make up the largest natural gas power generator rental solution in China and also all of Asia.

“The investment is our commitment to drive forward new era of environmentally-conscious power generation,” said Samson Lam, Executive Chairman and Co-founder of VPower. “It underlines our commitment to help our customers seize the opportunities to build up a power generation capacity that can be sustained for the near future.”

About VPower Group

VPower is a leading distributed power provider, delivering fast-track, short to medium term mobilized power solutions to emerging economies. It is also a system integrator of power generation systems, and invests in high efficiency, eco-conscious power generation technology.

Established in 2001, VPower now offers one of the most cost-effective engine-based power with industry-leading generation efficiencies. It is headquartered out of Hong Kong and employs over 800 employees worldwide.

Emily LIU
Phone number: +852-3610-7866
Phone number: +852-3610-7867  

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Source: VPower Group
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Written by asiafreshnews

December 11, 2015 at 4:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Markel completes acquisition of assets of CATCo Investment Management Ltd.

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RICHMOND, Virginia, LONDON and HAMILTON, Bermuda, /PRNewswire/ — Markel Corporation (“Markel”) (NYSE: MKL) and CATCo Investment Management Ltd. (“CATCo”) jointly announced today the completion of the acquisition by Markel of substantially all of the assets of CATCo.

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The business, which provides collateralized protections to over 35 global reinsurance buyers, will now operate as Markel CATCo Investment Management Ltd. (“Markel CATCo“). Every member of the CATCo team, led by Chief Executive Officer Tony Belisle, has transferred to Markel CATCo.

Richard R. Whitt, President and Co-Chief Operating Officer of Markel, commented, “We welcome Tony and the CATCo team into the Markel family. The reception by existing CATCo reinsurance buyers and investors to the newly established Markel platform has been overwhelmingly positive. We truly will be hitting the ground running.”  Whitt further remarked, “Joining CATCo’s insurance linked investment management capabilities alongside Markel’s traditional reinsurance capabilities should make for a powerful combination.”

Tony Belisle, Chief Executive Officer of Markel CATCo Investment Management Ltd., said, “I am delighted with the successful closure of the transaction and the bringing together of two fantastic organisations that share similar goals and cultures.

“The extra support our new owner brings will enable us to offer enhanced product ranges and secure capital efficiencies for our growing number of reinsurance buyers. With a significant amount of next year’s renewals already committed and projected AUM expected to exceed $3bn, 2016 is shaping up to be a positive and exciting year.”

Willis Capital Markets & Advisory served as exclusive financial advisor and Hogan Lovells International LLP served as legal advisor to CATCo. Sidley Austin LLP served as legal advisor to Markel.

About Markel Corporation

Markel Corporation is a diverse financial holding company serving a variety of niche markets. The Company’s principal business markets and underwrites specialty insurance products. In each of the Company’s businesses, it seeks to provide quality products and excellent customer service so that it can be a market leader. The financial goals of the Company are to earn consistent underwriting and operating profits and superior investment returns to build shareholder value. Visit Markel Corporation on the web at

About Markel CATCo Investment Management Ltd.

Markel CATCo Investment Management Ltd. is a specialist investment management business. From its headquarters in Hamilton, Bermuda, Markel CATCo manages retrocession and traditional reinsurance portfolios for clients around the world, including financial institutions, charities, pension funds, family offices and investment funds. Markel CATCo Investment Management Ltd. is authorized and regulated by the Bermuda Monetary Authority.


Some of the statements in this release may be considered forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Statements that are not historical facts, including statements about Markel’s and Markel CATCo’s beliefs, plans or expectations, are forward-looking statements. These statements are based on Markel’s and Markel CATCo’s current plans, estimates and expectations. There are risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in or suggested by such statements. Neither Markel nor Markel CATCo assumes any obligation to update this release (including any forward-looking statements herein) as a result of new information, developments or otherwise. This release speaks only as of the date issued.

Source: Markel Corporation

Written by asiafreshnews

December 11, 2015 at 3:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Go Beyond the Ordinary with the New Pioneer Multimedia Receivers in Indonesia

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JAKARTA, Indonesia /PRNewswire/ — Pioneer Electronics AsiaCentre, a leader in aftermarket car audio, today launched its 2016 multimedia and TV receivers, bringing FLAC lossless audio support and other exciting features to connected car entertainment.


Seven new multimedia receivers are available in different form factors and screen sizes: Under the double-DIN category are the AVH-X5850BT and AVH-X4850DVD boasting a massive 7-inch display, while the AVH-X2850BT, AVH-X1850DVD, AVH-285BT and AVH-185DVD come with a 6.2-inch screen. The 1-DIN AVH-X7850BT packs a space-saving design using a retractable slide-out 7-inch screen. All these models are also compatible with the latest GEX-2850DVB2 Dual Diversity DVB-T2 TV receiver.

“Online music and digital TV broadcasts are now becoming widely available, including lossless audio formats like FLAC, which is highly sought after by audiophiles. Our new Pioneer multimedia receivers have been developed to leverage this trend, providing a seamless in-car entertainment experience that is both intuitive and immersive,” said Mr. Isao Nomura, Deputy General Manager of Business Planning and Marketing Division, Pioneer Electronics AsiaCentre.

The following key enhancements are available for the 2016 models:


FLAC lossless audio support[1] lets both drivers and passengers enjoy higher-quality music playback[2], which is sonically superior compared with MP3 and CDs. Not only can FLAC retain all the nuances and dynamism of an original studio recording, it also packs a significantly higher resolution for enhanced clarity — at up to 24-bit/48KHz for the 2016 Pioneer multimedia receivers.

In terms of file size, FLAC is 50% to 60% smaller than uncompressed WAV files, allowing more songs to be fitted into the same USB storage devices and smartphones.


Now equipped with an improved ClearType resistive touchscreen promising better visual quality, users will be able to operate the head unit, play movies or navigate effortlessly and clearly at most viewing angles and under bright daylight conditions. As part of the overall screen upgrade, the wallpaper has been updated with refreshingly new graphics as well.


Steering wheel control[3] module lets drivers safely operate the receiver, including answering phone calls, without taking their hands off the steering wheel. What’s more, holding the onboard mute button can further activate a nifty voice recognition function.


Never miss a TV show with the latest GEX-2850DVB2[4] TV receiver, powered by a dual-diversity chipset for stable reception over a longer distance and at high speed, successfully tested by Pioneer at a range of up to 80km from the broadcasting station in a car travelling at around 140km/h.[5]

The GEX-2850DVB2 Dual Diversity DVB-T2 TV Receiver can also directly record TV programmes to a USB storage device, and is controllable using the receiver’s touchscreen for truly stress-free and smooth operations.


The following are more innovative features of Pioneer receivers to take full advantage of the latest smartphones:

  • AppRadio Mode and AppRadioLIVE[6] — Pioneer’s free application to view and control third-party utilities, navigational aids and social networks installed on iOS and Android smartphones, utilising the receiver’s touchscreen. AppRadio Mode is also compatible with AppRadioLIVE, which aggregates maps, music, news and events into four interactive quadrants on screen.

    Moreover, car owners can conveniently connect their smartphones to the receivers using a regular USB cable, eliminating costly and complicated setups previously required. Additional cabling options are also available.[7]

  • MIXTRAX — Pioneer’s revolutionary MIXTRAX®[8] virtual DJ technology transforms a music library into a nonstop DJ mix, inserting transitions and effects automatically to string together tunes from an iPhone, iPod or USB storage device. To truly recreate a club experience, users can also set the illumination and display to pulsate and change colour, according to the tempo and intensity of the music.
  • Comprehensive Bluetooth functions — All Bluetooth-enabled Pioneer receivers feature Two-Phone Bluetooth Pairing capability, allowing up to two phones to be connected simultaneously for hands-free voice calls. WithWireless Audio Browsing[9], drivers can also search their music library via the head unit display without touching their iOS and Android smartphone[10], providing greater user convenience and a safer drive.

The Pioneer AVH-X8750BT, launched in March 2015, will remain as the flagship Multimedia Receiver model with smartphone connectivity and enhanced audio and video capabilities on a clear WVGA touch panel. It is packed with features such as Pioneer’s AppRadio® Mode and AppRadio®LIVE, Pioneer’s revolutionary app-control technologies that allow users to directly access compatible mobile applications and contents right from the car dashboard. The Pioneer AVH-X8750BT also comes packed with Advanced Bluetooth® capabilities, MirrorLink® compatibility and FLAC file playback.

To download the high-res product images, go to

The new 2016 Pioneer Multimedia and TV Receivers will be available at Pioneer authorised dealers from 10 December 2015.

For more updates on these products, please visit the Pioneer Car Entertainment Facebook page

Additional notes:

  1. Do not use your Pioneer system if doing so will divert your attention in any way from the safe operation of your vehicle. Always observe safe driving rules. In some countries, certain operations of devices while driving may be illegal. Where such regulations apply, they must be obeyed.
  2. Pioneer does not guarantee compatibility with all USB mass storage devices and assumes no responsibilities for any loss of data on media players, smartphones, or other devices while using the receiver.
  3. Bluetooth® functionality requires a compatible Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone. Certain Bluetooth features may not be supported by all compatible Bluetooth-enabled devices, and/or the functionality of such features may be limited in certain devices or by certain wireless carriers.
  4. Pioneer Multimedia Receivers are for selected Android smartphones only. Compatibility varies by Android smartphone. Please check with local Pioneer authorised dealers for more information.
  5. PIONEER and MIXTRAX are registered trademarks of Pioneer Corporation.
  6. Apple®, iPhone® is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
  7. Android™ is a trademark of Google Inc.
  8. iOS® is a trademark or registered trademark of Cisco in the U.S. and other countries and is used under license.
  9. BLUETOOTH® is a registered trademark of Bluetooth SIG, Inc.
  10. Spotify® is the registered trademark of the Spotify Group.
  11. All other brand, product names, or logos may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.

About Pioneer Electronics AsiaCentre (PAC) Pte. Ltd.

The regional headquarters of Pioneer Corporation since 1992, Pioneer’s core business is in car audio visual. Pioneer aims to be a leading aftermarket manufacturer and supplier to leading car brands, providing comprehensive infotainment solutions for in-car, by developing next-generation devices and innovative cloud services for the growing connected car market. For more information, please visit

For more information, please contact:

Max Adam Kamil
Head of Promotion, Marketing Division
PT. Adab Alam Electronics
Tel: +62-216321946 (6 lines)


Only for AVH-X5850BT, AVH-X4850DVD, AVH-X2850BT, AVH-X1850DVD and AVH-X7850BT


Only for files stored in USB thumb drive.


Only for AVH-X5850BT, AVH-X4850DVD, AVH-X2850BT, AVH-X1850DVD and AVH-X7850BT


The GEX-2850DVB2 is designed and built for usage in countries with compatible DVB-T and DVB-T2 broadcast.


Actual performance varies and is dependent on a wide variety of external factors such as geographic location.


Only for AVH-X5850BT, AVH-X4850DVD, AVH-X2850BT, AVH-X1850DVD and AVH-X7850BT


Pioneer CD-MU200 accessory cable for selected Android™ smartphones, and Pioneer CD-IU52 accessory cable for selected iPhone, each sold separately.


Only for AVH-X5850BT, AVH-X4850DVD, AVH-X2850BT, AVH-X1850DVD and AVH-X7850BT


Available only for Pioneer receivers with built-in Bluetooth connectivity.


Requires iOS and Android devices compatible with AVRCP version 1.5.

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Source: Pioneer

Written by asiafreshnews

December 11, 2015 at 2:45 pm

Posted in Uncategorized