1. MITI to expedite approval of new car pricing incentive
  2. Blockchain technology to create more job opportunities
  3. MIDA to hold furniture, wood-based industry seminar
  4. More Malaysians prefer cashless payment with debit cards, online banking
  5. China, US to hold trade talks on 30 January

MITI to expedite approval of new car pricing incentive
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) says it will expedite the approval of incentives for the pricing of new car models. “We recognise that this process needs to be made more efficient and are more than willing to work with the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) to ensure that the process is speeded up,” deputy minister Dr Ong Kian Ming told reporters in Kuala Lumpur. He said the ministry would schedule a dialogue session with the MAA to facilitate the approval process.

Blockchain technology to create more job opportunities
The progress in blockchain technology will continue to create new job opportunities for the local workforce, says recruitment agency and headhunting firm, Randstad Malaysia. It said with the advancement of blockchain, more people were taking advantage of the rising technological trend to learn new skills and develop their specialisation. “We expect more job opportunities for Java developers to cater for the increasing activities around the development of microservices architecture, cloud deployment as well as large-scale mobile or web platforms,” it said in its 2019 Annual Market Outlook Report released today.

MIDA to hold furniture, wood-based industry seminar
The Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) will be organising a seminar on the furniture and wood-based industry in Kota Kinabalu on January 23 to promote Sabah as the next investment destination for the industry. The one-day seminar, with the theme “New Era of Manufacturing for Furniture and Wood-Based Industry”, would focus on automation and smart manufacturing to promote the adoption of Industry 4.0 among wood-based industry players, it said. “The seminar is in line with the state government’s measure to safeguard local industries and boost more downstream activities, which will eventually increase the economic development and living standards of local communities,” the agency said in a statement today. Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal had recently announced his plan to make Sandakan as a furniture centre due to its proximity to several forest management units within Sabah, which is ideal for downstream value-added timber activities. MIDA said participants would be updated on the latest government policies and strategies, the promoted industries and industrial park in Sabah, and insights on the development authority’s organisational mechanism in promoting and coordinating investment development in the furniture industry.

More Malaysians prefer cashless payment with debit cards, online banking
A Nielsen survey has found that 67 per cent of Malaysians use some form of cashless payment with debit cards and online banking being the preferred methods. Nielsen Malaysia’s Malaysian Payment Landscape syndicated report revealed that 63 per cent of Malaysians use debit cards and 57 per cent use online banking, mostly to make payments for recurring expenses such as phone and internet bills. It said only 27 per cent use credit cards to pay for their expenses and even fewer use mobile wallets at eight per cent. The management firm said that payment preferences also shift depending on the type of expenses. While two in three Malaysians have a debit card, it said its usage for day-to-day expenses remained relatively low as cash is overwhelmingly preferred for everyday activities. It added that the use of credit cards to pay for everyday expenses is comparatively low; only one in four Malaysians use a credit card for this purpose, mainly those aged between 35 and 64. The firm also said that while awareness on mobile wallets in Malaysia is high (88 per cent), concerns on security and fraud are the biggest barrier to adoption with 50 per cent of non-users citing security as the main reason for not making the switch to mobile wallets. Another barrier is the fear of overspending, it said, with one in three consumers abstaining from using mobile wallets to avoid spending beyond their means. Despite these perceptions, Nielsen Malaysia Consumer Insights Executive Director Anil Antony said in a statement that he believed that the future for mobile wallets is bright. “Existing mobile wallet users cite convenience as the biggest driver of usage, and we believe that adoption will rise driven by the growing popularity of app-based online shops, ride hailing services, online gaming and cinema ticket booking. “It is therefore up to mobile wallet providers to give consumers surety regarding the security and safety of their platforms,” he said.

China, US to hold trade talks on 30 January
Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He will travel to Washington at the end of the month for the latest round of trade talks with the US. China’s Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said Liu will hold two days of meetings on January 30 and 31 with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Chinese and US officials at the vice-ministerial level held three days of talks in Beijing last week which ended on a positive note. The US Trade Representative’s office said delegates touched on several key issues, including “forced technology transfers, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft of trade secrets for commercial purposes, services and agriculture”. Wei Zongyou, a professor of American studies at Fudan University, said he expected Liu and his US counterparts to reach consensus in Washington.