5 billion mobile phone users in 2017: GSMA

Around 2,250 companies are participating in the Mobile World Congress underway in Barcelona, Spain. More than 150,000 visitors from all across the world are expected to attend the four-day exhibition. (AN photo)
Updated 28 February 2017
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5 billion mobile phone users in 2017: GSMA

BARCELONA: The number of mobile phone users globally will surpass 5 billion by June, according to a study released by Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA).
With populations in Asia, and notably India, on the rise, the number, which stood at 4.8 billion a year ago, should mushroom to 5.7 billion, or three quarters of the world’s population, by 2020.
Asia will account for around half total growth, according to GSMA’s “Mobile Economy” report with India alone adding some 310 million new subscribers in the coming three years.
The release of the study coincides with the Mobile World Congress, the third-largest technology conference in the world, which kicked off in Barcelona, Spain on Monday. Around 2,250 companies are participating in the event and more than 150,000 visitors from all across the world are expected to attend the four-day exhibition.
Several mobile companies such as Huawei, Sony, LG, ZTE, BlackBerry and Samsung launched their new products to coincide with the opening of the event.
“Mobile is a global platform that today supports two-thirds of the world’s population, delivering the connectivity and infrastructure that is powering new digital economies and addressing socio-economic challenges,” said Mats Granryd, GSMA director-general.
“Our latest report reveals how the near ubiquity of smartphones and high-speed connectivity is enabling innovation in areas such as artificial intelligence and driving the digital transformation,” added Granryd, citing trillion-dollar investment in global networks since 2010.
That investment had seen the telecoms sector account for a 4.4 percent share of world GDP worth $3.3 trillion dollars last year, rising to a 4.9 percent share by 2020, for economic value equivalent to $4.2 trillion.
The report said the mobile ecosystem last year employed 28.5 million people directly or indirectly — a figure it said would rise to 30.9 million by 2020.
It added the sector would contribute $500 billion in tax receipts by 2020, up from $450 billion last year, not including revenue from spectrum auctions, worth almost $19 billion in 2016.
Operators are forecast to invest a further $700 billion by 2020 when 5G connectivity is set to bring ever-faster data connection.
Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group, said: “As culture and technology continue to intersect in every aspect of our world, we want to deliver new products and experiences that ultimately improve and enhance life.”
The main highlight of the event is the launch of the revamped version of Nokia’s iconic 3310 model, more than a decade after it was phased out.
“We are starting the next chapter for Nokia. Users will find the true Nokia brand’s attitudes such as reliability, simplicity, ease of use, human touch and quality in our devices,” said Arto Nummela, CEO of HMD Global.
During a conference held on the sidelines of the event, Keeper Security Inc., the world’s leading password manager and secure digital vault, announced the results of a survey analyzing mobile-device usage and security. Sponsored by Keeper Security, the study found that nearly 60 percent of mobile users have had to reset a password in the past two months. Respondents were two times more likely to have trouble logging into an account if they wrote their passwords down or tried to memorize them.
An alarming statistic found that 87 percent of mobile users between the ages of 18-30 reuse passwords across multiple websites and applications. This bad habit could result in millions of accounts being compromised since hackers typically test a stolen password against multiple accounts including banking, retail, social media, e-mail and health care websites.
According to the GSMA report, 2016 saw 580 4G networks launched in 188 countries covering 60 percent of the world population.
The organization added 55 percent of overall connections were now running on mobile broadband (3G/4G) networks, which are forecast to account for almost three-quarters of connections by 2020.

— With input from AFP


China opens up finance sector to more foreign investment

Updated 20 July 2019
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China opens up finance sector to more foreign investment

  • China will remove shareholding limits on foreign ownership of securities, insurance and fund management firms in 2020
  • Beijing has long promised to further open up its economy to foreign business participation and investment

BEIJING: China lifted some restrictions on foreign investment in the financial sector Saturday, as the world’s second largest economy fights slowing growth at home and a damaging trade war with the US.
China will remove shareholding limits on foreign ownership of securities, insurance and fund management firms in 2020, a year earlier than originally planned, the Financial Stability and Development Committee said in a statement posted by the central bank Saturday.
Foreign investors will also be encouraged to set up wealth management firms, currency brokerages and pension management companies, the statement said.
Beijing has long promised to further open up its economy to foreign business participation and investment but has generally dragged its feet in implementing the moves — a major point of contention with Washington and Brussels.
Saturday’s announcement followed a Friday meeting chaired by economic czar Liu He where policymakers focused on tackling financial risk and financial contagion and pledged new steps to support growth, according to a state council statement.
Additional measures include scrapping entry barriers for foreign insurance companies like a requirement of 30 years of business operations and canceling a 25 percent equity cap on foreign ownership of insurance asset management firms.
Foreign owned credit rating agencies will also be allowed to evaluate a greater number of bond and debt types, the statement said.
US President Donald Trump has launched a damaging tariff war in an attempt to force Beijing to further open up its economy and limit what he calls its unfair trade practices.
The US and China have hit each other with punitive tariffs covering more than $360 billion in two-way trade.
Trump and Xi Jinping agreed to revive fractious trade negotiations when they met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan on June 29 and top US and Chinese negotiators have held phone talks this month.