Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng sees the adoption of advanced technology as a stepping stone for Malaysia to escape the middle-income trap and restore its standing as an "Asian Tiger".
Speaking at the Securities Commission's SCxSC Fintech Conference 2018, Lim said various technologies are converging and this provides new tools to address problems faced by businesses, the government and society.
"Some of the latest technology involving artificial intelligence and big data that are part of Industry 4.0 have already been applied in the domestic retail, marketing and transport industries.
"The wider adoption of these latest technologies is important for Malaysia to break away from the middle-income trap and start roaring again as a proud Asian Tiger," he told the attendees in Kuala Lumpur today.
Lim said the adoption of new technologies could help develop new business models, enhance competitiveness, empower people and open up new markets.
"Embracing the digital economy is strategically important for our nation.
"Therefore, events such as SCxSC are a crucial platform in educating the public, exploring new and evolving digital trends and to facilitate meaningful discussions," he said.
On the government front, Lim said Putrajaya had allocated loans to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to invest in automation and modernisation as well as accelerating the adoption of smart technology.
This was on top of funds to help companies migrate to Industry 4.0 platforms with the implementation of the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan.
"However, developing the digital economy cannot remain solely the role of the government.
"The entrepreneurial state model prescribes a collaborative approach by relying on the 4P partnership involving the public, private, professionals and the people to manage and steer specific initiatives," he said.
On this, Lim said he was pleased with the success of the equity crowdfunding (ECF) and peer-to-peer (P2P) funding platforms which were rolled out by the SC.
"As part of the government’s commitment to support high potential and innovative SMEs, we are keen on the continued development of such alternative financing avenues for these businesses beyond the traditional channels of financing.
"Hence in the spirit of an entrepreneurial state, to start with, the government has allocated towards a co-investment fund (CIF) for ECF and P2P investments," he said.
Lim said the co-investment fund will operate under a commercial mandate and the government hopes that it can become self-sustaining through earnings being channelled back into the fund.
"The final details of the fund are being worked out by the SC and the CIF should be operationalised by early next year," he said.
Meanwhile, SC chairperson Syed Zaid Albar, in his speech, announced that more ECF and P2P providers will be granted licences beginning next year.
"To build on this success and scale up this segment, the SC will assess new applicants who are interested to operate ECF and p2p platforms.
"We will provide the public with more details in an announcement in the first half of 2019," he said.
Syed Zaid also announced the completion of SC's "Project Castor" and a document titled "Capital Market Architecture Blueprint in a Decentralised World" will be published as a result of that effort.
He said the framework outlines the SC's vision for the future of a multi-tiered market which is both centralised and decentralised underpinned by a distributed ledger technology, more commonly referred to as blockchain.
He said information on this initiative can be obtained at www.castor.my