Digital signature service market saturated, competition stiffer

More than 348,000 out of the total 500,000 businesses operating in Vietnam now use digital signature services and declare their taxes online.



Digital signature



Nine digital signature service providers have been licensed since September 2009, when the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) began the service.

The nine providers include VDC, Bkav, FPT, Viettel, CKCA, CA2, SafeCA, SmartSign and NewTel. Of these, FPT, the largest private-run technology group, and VDC, a subsidiary of the state-owned Vietnam Post and Telecommunication Group (VNPT), scramble for the first and second positions in the market. Each of them reportedly has 80,000 customers.

According to Nguyen Hong Hai, deputy director of VDC, many of these that do their taxes online are mostly located in Hanoi, HCM City and big cities and provinces.

“The coverage of digital signature on Vietnamese enterprises is relatively large. This means the remaining part of the market for service providers to exploit is small,” said Tran The Hien, CEO of FSE FPT.

“We can only seek new customers among the businesses that still have not used the services, and newly established businesses,” he added.

Ngo Tuan Anh, vice chair of BKAV, a well known internet security solution provider, also thinks there are more digital signature service providers than needed.

“There are nine service providers to serve 500,000 businesses which need the service to make tax and customs declarations. The supply has exceeded the demand,” he said.

MIC, which has realized the oversupply, has recently refused to grant operation license to businesses.

Observers said Vietnamese businesses mostly use digital signature services to make online tax and customs declarations, and to do e-banking and stock transactions.

FPT, VDC and Bkav also provide digital certificate services to SSL websites to protect important data transmitted via internet, local networks and outer networks, or for servers to automatically sign e-transactions.

They also provide services to protect manufacturers’ software and users against risks and malware when downloading.

Anh from Bkav said the company is planning to provide services to clients to serve their declarations of social insurance and e-invoices, once insurance and taxation agencies accept e-declarations and e-invoices.

Diversifying services is the only choice for service providers to improve their revenue as there are now a limited number of customers.

Hai of VDC also puts high hopes on the development of online public administration services, saying that this would create a promising area for digital signature firms to exploit.

Buu Dien

IT firms need more engineers to cater to Japan market

In the past few months, enterprises such as FPT Software, Global Cybersoft and Fujinet recruited hundreds of information technology (IT) engineers. Some even asked for 50-100 engineers at once.

The human resource department of Global Cybersoft said the company needed more than 150 engineers last month and this. For this whole year, it needs more than 500 engineers and apprentices.

FPT Software Ho Chi Minh City Co. Ltd said it would need 900 engineers this year to expand its business for Japanese and North American markets.

Some training centres and companies providing IT manpower in HCM City this year are in need of thousands of students with a good command of Japanese.

Among them is Esuhai Co. Ltd., which is seeking to recruit IT students in order to provide laborers for Japanese enterprises.

At a conference to develop IT manpower held by the Ministry of Information and Communications in early June, To Hong Nam, a representative of the ministry’s IT Department, said from now until 2020, IT schools and centres will provide around 600,000 IT workers for the market.

Currently, IT colleges are finding it difficult to meet the growing demand for high-quality manpower of companies in the country and abroad as well.

In order to have a high-quality and skillful staff, some software outsourcing companies have to offer high salaries to attract IT engineers.

According to local software firms, Japanese enterprises often offer their engineers higher salaries compared to Vietnamese firms.

A Vietnamese firm would pay a new graduate engineer 500-600 USD per month while a certain Japanese firm would pay 2,000 USD per month, they said. In the past six months, Japanese firms attracted most IT workers in Vietnam.

SGT/VNN

VNPT and Viettel step up offshore investment

Both Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) and military-run telecom company Viettel are bolstering their business and investment in foreign markets to add revenue streams.



VNPT, Viettel, investment, foreign markets

VNPT International (VNPT-I) under the State-owned group on Monday opened a representative office in Cambodia as the first one in Southeast Asia.

VNPT’s board chairman Pham Long Tran said the office was launched after the cooperative relationship had been established between VNPT and its Cambodian counterparts.  Therefore, subsidiaries under the group will have more opportunities to work with the neighboring country in various fields, especially in software and information technology solutions.

Meanwhile, Viettel has reaped a rich dividend from this market.

Its total revenues hit VND90 trillion in the first half of this year, up 28% compared to the same period of 2013, according to Viettel’s deputy general director Hoang Son.

Its revenues from offshore operations, mainly from such markets as East Timor, Peru, Cameroon, Mozambique, Cambodia, Laos and Haiti, reached VND12 trillion in the first six months of this year, Son said.

“Viettel is striving to enter Africa as it is negotiating with partners in several countries including Tanzania, Kenya and the Congo to apply for investment certificates,” Son said.

In addition to those markets, Viettel joined the tenders in Myanmar but its investment license of mobile services was not granted. The telecom company is now looking for deals with the chosen contractors to invest in this country.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Information and Communications said Viettel also struck several cooperative agreements with some telecom companies in Cuba during a recent visit to the country. It is likely that Viettel will soon invest in mobile services in Cuba in the coming time.

Its revenues from foreign countries last year accounted for 15% of the group’s total of VND163 trillion.

SGT/VNN

Mobile game wars break out among competitors

The mobile game market was very quiet in the first half of the year, but things are expected to heat up in the second half.

Analysts have every reason to believe that mobile device-based online games would boom in 2014.

The telecommunications infrastructure has improved significantly, while the number of mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, has increased rapidly thanks to the improved income of Vietnamese.

Gamers’ changing tastes



Mobile game




However, analysts seem to have mistakenly predicted the taste of gamers and the trends of the market.

In late 2013, they said that games favored by gamers in 2014 would be those with convenience, high quality 3D graphics and gameplays with depth.

However, high-quality graphics were not the most important feature for gamers. They played games with simple graphics, but the games had to be designed in a way that requires thinking and ingenuity.

This explained why Nguyen Ha Dong was so successful with his Flappy Bird, an arcade-form game with simple graphics.

But it was still very attractive to gamers because they found it difficult to get high scores.

Flappy Bird only existed for a couple of weeks (the author took it down from stores) but it gained an international reputation.

Vietnamese gamers are now interested in “blockbuster” mobile games instead of simple games which are just for gamers to “kill time”.

Real battle is about to start

Observers believe that Soha Game is leading the Vietnamese games market. Though Soha Game is not a veteran game distributor, its high number of products in distribution and its good support system have helped it lure more and more Vietnamese gamers.

The strong rise of Soha Game is a great challenge for veteran game distributors in the market.

Some observers even have doubts that big veteran distributors lagged behind because of unreasonable business strategies.

However, in fact, the big guys have kept quiet because they are busy preparing for the new battle.

GameK, a website about online games in Vietnam, has reported that VNG and Garena, two well-known names, will join the war.

One of the two is VNG, which has dozens of mobile games, both imports and self-developed, ready to be launched into the market. VNG is a formidable rival because it is the owner of Zalo, an OTT (over the top) app with about 10 million users.

Meanwhile, Garena, following success with Lien Minh Huyen Thoai (the legendary alliance) and FIFA Online 3, has begun distributing mobile games, mostly targeting the community of Beetalk users, also an OTT app.

The Soha Game, MCCorp, VTC Mobile and MeCorp, the other big guys, are also reportedly preparing for a big battle.

Tri Thuc Tre

Officials reject farmer’s incinerator invention

The inventor of a special garbage incinerator and electricity generator, a farmer in Thai Binh province, has dismantled his work following a ban by the provincial science and technology department.



incinerator

Kien’s incinerator was tested at a market in 2011.



However, the specialists from the Ministry of Science and Technology have commented that this is “a great achievement of the Vietnamese creativity”.

When reporters came to see Bui Van Kien, a farmer in Thai Thuy District of Thai Binh Province, at his house on July 7 to learn about the incinerator – electricity generator, they were told by Kien that the work had been dismantled.

“As the Thai Binh provincial Science & Technology Department prohibits me to continue creating the incinerator, I have decided to strip it down,” he told the reporters. “I feel sad when looking at it”.

Three years ago, Kien felt excited when he successfully created an incinerator which can generate electricity during the burning process in front of witnesses from the Thai Binh provincial Science & Technology Department.

The materials burnt were domestic garbage, industrial waste (steel scrap) and medical waste as well. The electricity volume generated during the burning process was enough to light 20 100W lamps, while the volume of smoke discharged to the environment was inconsiderable.

Some days later, Kien received a notice from the department that he must stop making the incinerator because it may threaten safety in the area and pollute the environment.

Kien later upgraded the incinerator, which allowed it to burn garbage more effectively and generate electricity in a more stable manner.

“The smoke discharged to the environment was just ‘white smoke’ which was not toxic,” he said.

“However, as the science department repeatedly told me to stop my work, I have dismantled the incinerator,” he said.

In order to create the incinerator, Kien had to spend all of the money he had saved.

However, Kien said he feels discouraged not because he spent too much money on the research work, but because he did not receive the support from competent agencies.

“I made it (the incinerator) with my own money. I did not cause any explosions or fire during the experiments. And the smoke generated from the incinerator was inconsiderable if compared with the smoke volume generated by farmers when burning straw after harvesting,” he said, adding that his work did not cause any problem to the environment.

The farmer not only can make incinerators that generate electricity. The reporters found at his house many other useful research works, including a machine that can turn saltwater into freshwater and a machine that generates power to heat water tanks during the waste treatment process.

“I have many other ideas, but I cannot turn them into reality because I don’t have money and I cannot obtain permission from competent agencies,” he said, adding that his ideas all aim to create products friendly to the environment.

“I visited some thermopower plants in Vietnam and found that most of them use Chinese technologies, i.e., many tons of coal are burnt to generate electricity. I just need 5-10 percent of the coal amount to create thermal energy,” he said.

Dat Viet

Vietnam’s first bitcoin trading floor launched

Despite disapprovals from authorities, Vietnam’s first online bitcoin trading floor called VBTC has made its official debut at www.vbtc.vn, nearly three months behind original schedule.



bitcoin trading floor



VBTC was jointly founded by VBTC Vietnam Co. Ltd. and Israeli firm Bit2C. Earlier, VBTC was expected to start operations in April.

Nguyen Tran Bao Phuong, executive officer of VBTC Vietnam Co. Ltd., said the website was running on a trial version in June before coming online on July 9, allowing unlimited bitcoin trading in Vietnam.

Phuong said Vietnam is a promising land for bitcoin development. The company pledges to strictly follow all the rules on the use of the bitcoin in Vietnam.

In March, the enterprise submitted a dossier to the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s E-Commerce and Information Technology Department to ask for approval to establish the trading floor at www.bitcoinvietnam.com.vn.

However, the department, which oversees commercial websites in Vietnam, turned down the application, saying that this trading floor has not been registered legally in the country.

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) earlier warned that bitcoin and other virtual currencies were not legal tender. Credit institutions are not allowed to use bitcoin and other virtual currencies.

Thus, the central bank told organizations and individuals not to invest in and keep bitcoins, and offer services connected to them and other crypto currencies.

Phuong said the company was working with the authorities concerned over bitcoins.

Phuong said the company was ready to cooperate with the Government agencies to prevent bitcoin-related crimes. Many countries have found it hard to prevent bitcoin trading, Phuong said.

Bui Quang Tien, head of the Payment Department under the central bank, said the department did not issue any license for the exchange. He added that bitcoin and other virtual currencies are not a permitted means of payment in Vietnam.

The department will work with the public security forces to tackle operators of the exchange, Tien stressed.

SGT/VNN

Budget smartphone sales soar

Handsets costing VND2 million to VND4 million have become more popular. The low-end market, particularly in rural areas, is driving sales growth, traders say.

Chinese and Vietnamese budget smartphones, which offer high-end devices at relatively low prices, have played a key role in the mushrooming growth.

Meanwhile, a few well known brands have introduced affordable models, such as Lumia 525, Nokia X, ASUS Zenfone and Galaxy Trend Plus.

In addition, strong discounts on some high-end models has also helped trigger sales.

According to a representative from The Gioi Di Dong Joint Stock Company, a prominent mobile phone retailer, the sales of its budget smartphones increased by 60 per cent in the first half of the year.

Deputy director of the company, Tran Kinh Doanh, said the smartphone segment in Viet Nam was still hot and would develop further.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Hoang Son, a sales representative from OneTouch, an online phone retailer in Ha Noi, said more budget smartphones were expected to make their debut by the end of July.

“Many thousands of new students will enrol in August and they are the potential buyers of budget smartphones,” he added.

According to GfK, one of the world’s largest research companies, Viet Nam ranks second among the fastest growing markets for smartphones in Southeast Asia, owing to the popularity of 3G (third generation network) and budget smartphones.

The German company reported that the top three growth markets for smartphones were Indonesia, Viet Nam and Thailand.

Meanwhile, the percentage of smartphone sold in Viet Nam in the first quarter surpassed sales of ordinary mobiles, reaching 55 per cent, the Germany-based market researcher reported.

GfK attributed the fast development of the smartphone market in Viet Nam to the increasing popularity of 3G, which according to the Ministry of Information and Communications, covers more than 80 per cent of Viet Nam’s territory.

VNS/VNN

Illegal spyware tracks smartphone users

The Ha Noi Department of Information and Communication s has recently caught a private IT company spying on 14,140 mobile phone subscribers using the Ptracker software. Initial police investigations showed that the Viet Hong Company’s malicious software used on digital devices to collect personal information was being used by wives and husbands to keep track of their partners. A lawyer, an IT expert, a psychologist and members of the public talked about the issue.

Dinh Doan, marriage and family counsellor and director of Psyconsult Co,Ltd

How do you evaluate the information that up to 14,000 subscribers had spyware installed on their phones without their knowledge, mostly by their partners?

Illegal spyware, smartphone users, private IT company, Ptracker software
Dinh Doan

Well, I’m not surprised about the number. There are different ways to monitor people, such as installing a chip on vehicles, hacking their email and other social network accounts or hiring a detective to do the job. The real number of those who are being watched must be much more than that.

I believe it shows a shortage of trust and respect in social relationships, especially between lovers and married couples.

The development of society has led to new relationships and the chance to meet new people. This has contributed to more love affairs and cheating. Figures from the Institute of Families and Gender Research under the Viet Nam Science and Society Institute show that up to 60,000 couples get divorced each year, and that figure is rising. Cheating is the second most common reason for divorce, behind conflict of lifestyle.

This has made many people doubt their partners. With the support of high-tech equipment, people are ready to spend several hundreds of thousands of dong to get to know about their partner’s schedule.

Most people are aware that eavesdropping on other people’s mobile phones is illegal and an invasion of privacy, but they do it anyway. Can you explain why?

I must confirm that I have never supported this act. Firstly, it is illegal. Secondly, it brings no benefits to relationships. If the act is found out, the consequences are terrible. Those who are being watched feel disrespected, hurt and angry, which can lead to negative reactions such as disputes and break-ups.

Being a psychologist, I understand that when a wife or a husband thinks their partner is acting strangely, it’s understandable that they will feel anxious and want to know the truth.

Installing spyware is among the many ways to help them get out of this feeling and their partner at the right time and improve their emotional life. However, they are selecting the wrong method.

Years ago, my customers were young people who were having trouble in love.

But in recent years, many middle-aged and married people have come to me for counselling, and most have problems with their partner’s love affairs.

Married woman, 28

I would not install tracking tools on my husband’s phone because I believe any relationship, especially marriage, should be built on mutual trust.

I realise from the stories of many of my friends who have done this to their husbands that they are just trying to lie to themselves. Their marriages are not held up by love but by monitoring their spouses.

I also notice that these women often get distracted from work and lose their focus in life when all they want to do all day is to track the whereabouts of their husbands. It is such a waste of time. If their husbands really want to have an affair, there are so many ways to hide it, like buying another phone. I believe that you cannot rely on a simple mobile software to achieve happiness.

Single man, 23

I think that having tracking software installed on mobiles is unacceptable to most people, especially when it’s put there by the people they love. The first reason is that everyone needs privacy, no matter how close you and your partner are. Secondly, men usually feel uncomfortable about being spied on, and even hate it sometimes.

There are so many things that happen in real life that can rock a relationship. They can be daily contact at work with the opposite sex or long-day business trips, for example. Even men sometimes find it hard to bear, let alone the ladies. Anything can go wrong at anytime, and no-one can be sure about it, but at least you should show trust and respect towards your partner.

In my opinion, installing spyware on mobiles is just an example of extreme suspicion and disrespect. I suggest that everyone, especially the ladies, should think about this and be rational about the issue.

Lai Hong Duong, Research and Development CEO of Thanh Giong Computer and Communications Joint Stock Company

What is tracking software?

Tracking software is not new. This kind of software has been developed and available since the birth of smartphones.

Spying software will keep track on calls and automatically record when a connection is set up. The recorded data is then upload to a server. Trackers can access the records after logging into the tracking website.

Most spyware runs on the Android system, but there are also others that can run on iOs system and jailbroken. There are dozens of spyware such as Ptracker and Cell Tracker available for download in app stores.

Technically, it is very easy and takes just a couple of minutes to install tracking software on smartphones. All you need is a smartphone that is connected to the internet via 3G or wifi.

How can users find out if their mobiles are being spied on? Is there any way to protect their mobiles from tracking software?

Unless users are technology-savvy, it is often hard to detect tracking software. However, users can regularly look for unfamiliar software on their phones, and install a quality antivirus software.

To limit the risks, users should always keep their phones to themselves and not let other people use them.

Users can also install specific software to search for spyware. If the phone does have spyware installed, users can ask the manufacturers to address the problem.

Bui Cong Thanh, Managing Partner of PLF law firm, HCM City

Does the act of spying made possible by the Viet Hong Company violate the law in Viet Nam?

Illegal spyware, smartphone users, private IT company, Ptracker software
Bui Cong Thanh

The right of inviolability of personal privacy including correspondence, telephone and telegrams is stated in many legal documents in Viet Nam. Regarding the issue of the Viet Hong Company which was caught spying on mobile phone subscribers with the Ptracker software, some laws were violated.

Firstly, it violated the Viet Nam 2013 Constitution, which states that information regarding personal privacy, personal secret and familial secrecy is safely protected by the law, and no-one is allowed to open or control other’s correspondence, telephone, telegrams or other forms of exchange of personal information.

Secondly, it violates the Civil Law, which says that only when someone consents, other people can collect information and material on his or her private life.

Only in cases when competent State agencies require and when the law allows, can an inspection of an individual’s phones, telegrams or other forms of electronic information may be performed.

Thirdly, it violates the Law on Telecommunications, which says private information transmitted through public telecommunications networks of all organisations and individuals shall be kept confidential.

How about those who use the company’s software to spy? Do they violate any legal regulations?

Based on the motivation and purposes of individuals relating to spying cases, investigators will consider elements that lead to the following crimes:

- Those who hired the Viet Hong Company to install the software to spy on mobile phone subscribers will be considered under Article 125 of the Criminal Law, which says those who appropriate letters, telegrams, telex, facsimile or other documents transmitted by telecommunications and computers shall be subject to a warning, a fine of VND1.5 million ($70) or non-custodial reform for up to one year.

- If these individuals use this personal information collected illegally by the Viet Hong Company to pay an online transaction, or to withdraw money from a bank account, such activities can be considered a crime under Article 226b of the Criminal Law. These individuals may be subject to a fine of VND3-30 million and a ban from holding certain posts from one to five years.

VNS/VNN

Delta Aquarids meteor shower expected in late July

The Delta Aquarids meteor shower with about 20 streaks per hour is expected to appear in late July. Vietnam will be one of the countries where the phenomenon can be seen.



Delta Aquarids, meteor shower



Delta Aquarids usually takes place from July 12 to August 23 every year with peak activity on July 28 or 29, with about 15-20 streaks per hour during optimal observing conditions.

“Vietnam is situated in the area where the Delta Aquarids can be observed and the peak is at dawn on July 30,” said Dang Duy Tuan, from the HCM City Amateur Astronomers Club.

Sky-watchers are suggested to look at the eastern sky with its radiant located to the left of the Fomalhaut star.

The Delta Aquarids meteor shower peak will be highlighted as well with the new moon occurring on Saturday, July 26.

According to ITWire report, viewers in the northern tropics (southern latitudes) of the Northern Hemisphere will have decent observations of the Delta Aquarids meteor shower.

The peak of the Delta Aquarids meteor shower in the Northern Hemisphere is scheduled to take place on Aug 13 and 14. For the Northern peak, 10 meteors per hour are expected to be visible when the observers look in the lower southern to southeastern sky close to the Aquarius constellation.

“This year’s peak occurs during a new moon, which means dark skies for optimal viewing. Begin looking for these faint meteors after midnight,” NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) stated in the Epoch Times report.

The meteors may be difficult to spot but the visibility is anticipated to rise during its peak time.

To best view the meteor shower, observers from both the Southern and Northern Hemispheres must find a spot away from the bright city and street lights.

“Lie flat on your back and look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible. However, looking halfway between the horizon and the zenith, and 45 degrees from the constellation of Aquarius will improve your chances of viewing the Delta Aquarids. In less than 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt and you will begin to see meteors,” NASA suggested.

There will be two more meteor showers gracing the sky almost at the same time with the Delta Aquarids this July and then in August.

The Alpha Capricornids, also with the July 28 and 29 peak time, started its display on July 11 and will run through Aug 10 with few meteors visible but with a shower producing bright fireballs in the sky.

The Perseids meteor shower display is scheduled as well to take place from July 13 to Aug 26 with the peak times on Aug 11 and 12. The Perseids meteor shower has many meteors visible.

Compiled by Na Son

Japanese interested in farmer’s incinerator invention

The input materials for the electricity generator are not coal or petrol, but garbage, from domestic rubbish to industrial and medical waste.

The inventor of the “power plant” is a farmer, Bui Xuan Kien, who said it took him six years and about VND100 million, a fortune of his, to invent the incinerator and electricity generator.

According to Kien, with the electricity generator, he can generate 1.5 kwh of electricity from one kilo of garbage and 4-5 kwh from one kilo of timber.

The machine can generate electricity with a production cost 80 percent lower than the current electricity retail price. Several people only, or Kien alone, are enough to run the generator.

“The major works of the operator are classifying garbage, putting into the machine and ensuring that the temperature inside the incinerator is between 1,600-2,000oC.

The work of the incinerator and electricity generator is turning heat energy into mechanical energy and turning mechanical energy into electrical energy. Kien believes his machine would be the perfect solution for now and the future, when fossil fuel runs out.

Kien’s invention is believed to be great enough to compete with the existing power plants. His “power plant” can satisfy the demand of 20 households, while the production cost is 80 percent cheaper.

Meanwhile, city leaders, which have continuing problems with waste treatment, would be grateful to Kien for his invention.

However, in fact, Kien’s work was not applauded by the Thai Binh provincial authorities. He was told by the provincial science and technology department to stop working on the incinerator and electricity generator, citing safety problems.

While the local authorities remained indifferent to the farmer’s invention, a Japanese company has sent word it is interested in the technology invented by Kien.

Nukihiko Nakayama, the representative of the company, came to see Kien in Thai Binh to learn about the machine.

After watching the videotapes recording the experiments carried out in the past, the Japanese expert said he has a high hope for the incinerator.

He said he biggest value of the invention is that garbage can be burnt at high temperatures. And if so, the heat energy to be generated during the burning process can be used to make many things, not only to generate electricity.

He said if Kien can burn garbage at such a high temperature of over 1,400 oC and can control the incinerator’s temperature, his invention will be recognized as unique in the world. To date, none of the countries with the highest technological expertise, including Japan, China, Russia and the US, can do this.

Kien is still considering cooperating with the Japanese company to develop the technology. However, he said he needs to consult with lawyers about issues related to intellectual property.

He has been informed that he will receive the intellectual property certificate by May 2015.

Dat Viet