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NPC to probe hacking of Cebu Pacific app server

April 29, 2019

THE National Privacy Commission (NPC) is set to investigate the hacking of Cebu Pacific’s GetGo rewards application server which occurred on Thursday.     Cebu Pacific has sent its preliminary notification of an unauthorized breach of its website’s database in compliance with the NPC notification requirement within 72 hours upon discovery of the breach.     “In the notification, the company’s data protection officer (DPO) Randall Evangelista said the extent and nature of the breach is still being determined,” Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro said in a media statement on Thursday.     The Privacy Commission has directed the Cebu Pacific’s DPO to assess if there is a need to inform affected data subjects about the breach, along with specific precautions and other measures they may take to protect themselves, after which they must also report to NPC's complaints and investigation team on Friday.     Meanwhile, NPC media relations officer Joe Vizcarra told the Philippine News Agency that Cebu Pacific is given five days to submit a full report of the hacking incident after the preliminary notification before it conducts a formal investigation.     “In case we determined any significant instances that would warrant an investigation or if they don’t follow breach reporting protocols, then that’s the time we will shift to formal investigation,” Vizcarra said in a text message.     GetGo is CEB's rewards program, wherein purchases and flights let customers earn points that can be used for flights.     Cebu Pacific temporarily disabled log-ins using GetGo credentials to the carrier's website and mobile app.     Both the website and mobile app remain secure while the credit card information was not stored on the GetGo server. (PNA)

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Ayala committed to digital transformation across group

April 29, 2019

AYALA Corporation’s Chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala has announced that the company is undergoing a massive transformation to aggressively ramp up the digitalization of its companies.     During the company’s 2019 Annual Stockholders’ Meeting held last week,  Zobel elaborated on some key components of this digitalization strategy, such as exploring new business models and opportunities, bolder and more deliberate venture capital spending, and leveraging data and analytics, among others.      Today, Ayala has already gained a foothold in fintech, e-commerce, logistics, industrial technologies, and health tech, and plans to invest substantially in tech innovations globally to help bring the country at par with the rest of the digital world.     “We have started to participate in digital businesses that we believe are disruptive. These investments are designed to complement our group’s traditional brick-and-mortar operations, future-proof our existing portfolio, and broaden the digital experience of Filipinos. We spend significant time studying other markets that are in the advanced stages of digital maturity and we have teams constantly looking at emerging trends and technologies. Absorbing and learning from these experiences, we have become more deliberate in our own digital transformation journey and have elevated it into a group-wide strategic agenda,” said Zobel.     In fintech, Ayala is the country’s clear leader today with both GCash and Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) providing leading solutions to more Filipinos. GCash, which is recognized as the number 1 mobile wallet in the Philippines and number 5 in the region, is a micropayment service that transforms the mobile phone into a virtual wallet for secure, fast, and convenient money transfers. It is operated by Mynt, a partnership among Globe Telecom (Globe), Ayala Corporation, and Ant Financial that provides innovative and first-in-world fintech solutions to consumers, merchants, and organizations.      GCash currently has 20 million users and more than 58,000 QR-enabled merchants in the country. By December 2018, there were 35 GCash-enabled sites, including all 31 Ayala Malls nationwide and other Ayala Land (ALI) retail centers.      It has also launched GCredit, GSave, and Invest Money as part of its commitment to provide financial services to its growing, digitally-savvy base.      For its part, BPI’s new Mobile app has 1.6 million downloads and ranks number 1 in the Apple App Store and number 4 in the Google Play Store.      Total active BPI Online and BPI Mobile users also grew by 16.3% in 2018.      In total, BPI serves over 54,000 merchants (including Global Payments merchants). It continues to ramp up its microfinance arm, BanKo, which has provided over P4 billion worth of loans over the last three years to nearly 56,000 entrepreneurs.      It has over 200 branches nationwide and is set to release a BanKo mobile wallet app soon.     BPI and GCash continue to complement each other to make financial services more convenient and accessible, and are poised to introduce even more technology offerings and services in the coming months.      Over the past three years, the Ayala group has invested over P18.5 billion to further its fintech capabilities and aspirations.     In e-commerce and logistics, Ayala is quickly becoming a major player. Among Ayala’s earliest digital investments was ZALORA Philippines, an e-commerce fashion retail platform that capped off 2018 with over 100 million page views for the first time in its seven-year history and over seven million mobile app downloads.      In October 2018, Ayala spun off ZALORA’s in-house logistics capabilities into Entrego, now the country’s fastest growing Courier, Express and Parcel provider with 54 distribution hubs nationwide.     In health tech, AC Health pioneered the country's first digital health portfolio to provide Filipinos with seamless and integrated healthcare services.      Through Vigos Health Technologies, AC Health developed an in-house Electronic Medical Record and Clinic Information System called Vigos EMR.      It also launched a digital corporate health platform called Vigos Care which allows AC Health’s patients to access all their healthcare needs from their phones.      In addition, the company has also invested in AIDE, a digital home health platform, and MedGrocer, an online pharmacy that delivers right to the customer’s doorstep.     AC Health's digital portfolio will serve more than one million lives by 2020.     In its biggest commitment to digitalization to date, Ayala and its affiliates have announced plans to launch a new venture capital fund, with at least $150 million, to invest globally in new technologies that can complement their business activities.      With this new fund, Ayala seeks to focus on startups in their early growth stage and support tech innovations in data and analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, fintech, automation, real estate, retail, transport, energy, water, health and wellness, and food.      Ayala, ALI, BPI, Globe, AC Energy and other selected invited investors have committed to raise this fund, which will be managed by Kickstart Ventures Inc. (Kickstart).      Kickstart is the corporate venture capital subsidiary of Globe with investment decisions overseen by senior Ayala group executives. It has invested in 39 digital startups in seven different countries since 2012.      This fund is the largest effort of its kind in the Philippines, and the first conglomerate-wide strategic venture capital fund in the country.     Through digital transformation, Ayala is harnessing the power of technology as it remains fully committed to reinventing its businesses to help bridge societal gaps, make a lasting and meaningful impact on society, and help improve Filipino lives.

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The faculty of Bright Light Learning Academy

April 29, 2019

iLearn Educational Intervention and Therapy Center, which has been operational since 2013, will establish the Bright Light Learning Academy and start accepting enrollees from nursery to kindergarten levels starting this June.     With a staff of nine teachers, Bright Light Learning Academy is marked as an inclusive school i.e. it caters not just to clients of iLearn Education Intervention and Therapy Center but also to the general public. According to owner Bambi Alegrado, Bright Light Learning Academy is conceived to offer quality education by integrating researched and milestone-based teaching styles from proven effective approaches.     With its address located along Masterson Avenue, Bright Light Learning Academy is an offshoot of iLearn Education Intervention and Therapy Center which is the only facility in Northern Mindanao to offer the Orton-Gillingham Approach.     Alegrado herself is a holder of three certificates in speech therapy, preschool reading and math and advanced math intervention from MSL Singapore. She now has a total of eight occupational therapists, three visiting speech pathologists and one resident speech pathologist under her fold. From a facility that first offered reading intervention, iLearn has slowly extended its offerings through the years – occupational therapy, speech therapy, preschool reading and math intervention and advanced math intervention.      The story of iLearn Educational Intervention and Therapy Center is also an inspiration of known events organizer and PR specialist Betsy Alano. For a few, Betsy has been a single mom raising a daughter with intellectual disability. Ena Victoria, her daughter who is soon turning 18, had a rough time getting the services she needed in the Philippines.     According to Betsy, their situation had made everyday life harder: What a typical person perceives as an annoyance can feel like an assault to them. They learned to adapt but somewhere underneath lies a feeling of not quite belonging. Now at 40, Betsy and her daughter have moved to the United States -and now working as a behavioral therapist specializing in applied behavior analysis.     It’s a method that is proven in helping children with autism spectrum disorder. Her daughter is now attending a special education school and is getting all the needed services for free in the US.

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BSP execs see within target inflation amid oil price upticks, El Niño

April 29, 2019

PHILIPPINE monetary officials continue to see within-target average inflation this year amid risks arising from higher global oil prices and the impact of El Niño.     In a briefing Friday, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Assistant Governor Francisco Dakila Jr. said the inflation’s trajectory continues to point towards deceleration until the third quarter of the year, and then go back towards the mid-point in the latter part of the year.     “That’s driven by base effects,” he said.     In 2018, inflation surpassed the government’s 2 percent to 4 percent target band from 2018 to 2022, and peaked at 6.7 percent primarily due to supply side factors, such as lack of supply of rice and several agricultural products.     However, with the help of the total of 175 basis points increase in the BSP’s key rates, as well as non-monetary policy measures, such as the immediate release of rice stocks from the warehouses of the National Food Authority (NFA), inflation decelerated and ended at 3.3 percent last March.     In the first quarter of this year, inflation averaged at 3.8 percent, same as the first quarter of last year but lower than the 5.9 percent in the last quarter of 2018.     BSP’s policy-making Monetary Board (MB), during its rate setting meet last March, placed the BSP’s average inflation forecast for this and next year at 3 percent.     Citing results of the BSP survey on private economists last March, BSP Department of Economic Research (DER) Director Dennis Lapid, during the same briefing, said mean inflation forecast among private economists showed a decline in their average inflation forecast for this year to 3.3 percent from 4.1 percent in the survey done last December.     For next year, the mean forecast declined to 3.4 percent from 3.8 percent previously, while initial forecast for 2021 is at an average of 3.4 percent.     Dakila said the BSP’s inflation forecast will be closely studied in the next policy meeting of the MB on May 9.     To date, monetary officials consider as upside risks to inflation the higher prices of oil in the international market and the impact of the El Niño, which is now seen to be longer-than-expected.     Dakila said they have not seen to date the impact of El Niño on prices of agricultural products, among others, while rice prices are going down as a result of the rice tariffication.     “For me, that is something that we need to watch out for,” he said, adding that balance of risks is even. (PNA)

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Policy stance remains appropriate, risks to inflation even: Diokno

April 29, 2019

BANGKO Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno on Friday maintained that the central bank's policy stance remains appropriate and risks to inflation remain even this 2019.     In his speech during the First Quarter 2019 inflation report briefing at the BSP, Diokno said domestic inflation rate is easing and growth dynamics remains firm.     These are seen to counter the impact of a weaker global growth outlook and the rising global crude oil prices.     Diokno noted that while several major central banks indicated more accommodative stance as a result of the slower global economic activities their counterparts from developing economies and emerging markets "have been stirred by challenging external conditions amid trade tensions and tither global financial conditions."     In the last quarter of 2018, the domestic economy expanded, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), by 6.3 percent, higher than the 6-percent growth in the previous quarter but weaker than year-ago's 6.6 percent.     Diokno, however, said that growth remains strong, driven primarily by government spending and private consumption.     "Domestic demand continues to support overall growth, contributing 5.4 percentage points to GDP growth," he said.     "In the near term, recent prevalent demand indicators continue to point to overall firm domestic growth prospects," he said, noting the positive outlooks of both the consumers and businessmen.     Inflation further decelerated last March to 3.3 percent from month-ago's 3.8 percent, bringing the first quarter average to 3.8 percent, slower than the 5.9 percent average in the previous quarter.     The BSP chief said that in terms of monetary conditions, domestic liquidity continues to keep pace with the economy's requirements and bank lending shows sustained improvement of the economy.     He said the domestic financial system "continues to be supported by firm macroeconomic fundamentals, sound banking system, and robust economic growth prospects that reinforce investor sentiment."     "Furthermore, the Philippine banking system remains healthy, with positive asset quality indicators and capital adequacy ratios comfortably above international norms," he said.     "The BSP continues to gauge the impact of its monetary policy responses on domestic economic conditions to ensure that inflation remains on track toward the government's target of 2 to 4 percent and that inflation expectations remain anchored," he added. (PNA)

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BPI execs eye higher income in 2019, allot P6-B for capex

April 29, 2019

BANK of the Philippine Island (BPI) President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Cezar Consing is optimistic the Ayala-led financial institution will post higher income year-on-year in 2019 after a 7.6 percent growth in net income in the first quarter of the year.     In a briefing Thursday, Consing said he is optimistic that this year’s profits will be “higher, faster (and) stronger.”     In 2018, the bank posted a three percent growth in net income to P23.08 billion.     Consing attributed his optimism to the strong rise of their loans in the first quarter this year after it grew by 11.5 percent year-on-year to P1.35 trillion.     In a report to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) Thursday, the bank said credit card loans grew by 20.3 percent, housing loans by 9.9 percent and corporate loans by 11.8 percent.     BPI executives target to increase the share of consumer loans to around 35 percent of total in four to five years from the current 20 percent. The higher portion is accounted for by the corporate segment.     BPI Chief Finance Officer and head of Strategy and Development Maria Theresa Javier, during the same briefing, said they are giving consumer and small and medium enterprise (SME) loans greater focus, with a combined target growth of 15 percent this year, higher than the 10-12 percent eyed for corporate lending.     Relatively, BPI executives have set a P6 billion capital expenditures this year, higher than in the past, as it focuses more on digitalization of its processes as well as expanding its branch network.     Javier said they target to open 14 new BPI branches and 100 branches of its microfinance arm – BPI Direct BanKo.     To date, the bank has over 800 branches in the country, Hong Kong, and Europe and about 200 BanKO branches nationwide.     Javier said half of the new branches that will be opened this year will be in the Visayas and Mindanao, same as their decisions in recent years as they recognize the rising economic growth in these areas.     Relatively, Consing said a big chunk of the capital expenditures will be allocated for digitalization since this will have a big impact on their operations and cost in the coming years.     Digitalization will eventually lessen the need to put up additional physical branches since more customers will have an option to use mobile and online platforms, he added. (PNA)

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