Last updated Tuesday, September 02, 2014 09:40am

Sitting in the centre are MDeC chairman Abdul Halim Ali (fourth from left); Che Azemi Haron, Deputy Secretary General II, Ministry of Communications & Multimedia (fourth from right) and MDeC CEO Badlisham Ghazali (third from left); with judges, organisers and the winners and merit recipients of the 2013 APICTA Awards October 8 2013. — picture courtesy of Digital News AsiaSitting in the centre are MDeC chairman Abdul Halim Ali (fourth from left); Che Azemi Haron, Deputy Secretary General II, Ministry of Communications & Multimedia (fourth from right) and MDeC CEO Badlisham Ghazali (third from left); with judges, organisers and the winners and merit recipients of the 2013 APICTA Awards October 8 2013. — picture courtesy of Digital News AsiaKUALA LUMPUR, Oct 8 — Mobile payment company Soft Space International Sdn Bhd was judged the ‘Best of Malaysian Startup Companies’ at the MSC Malaysia APICTA (Asia Pacific ICT Alliance) Awards 2013, jointly organised by the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) and the National ICT Association of Malaysia (Pikom).

It was double joy for Soft Space, whose solution that converts smartphones and tablets into credit-card payment kiosks also won an award as Best Financial Application.

“Winning the award is a great recognition for a young company like ours; it adds credibility to our product and our company,” said Soft Space director of corporate and strategy planning Chris Leong.

Winning the award for best financial application for its Centralised Mobile-Point-of-Sales (mPOS) solution would help too, he told Digital News Asia (DNA) by email. “Winning this … gives confidence to our clients that our product is among the best in its category — especially in a category that is traditionally won by [more] established companies,” he added.

In February, Soft Space landed its first big deal with a major bank: Thailand’s KasikornBank, which announced it was rolling out its ‘K-Merchant on Mobile’ service to 50,000 partner merchants across all industries, including retail shops, this year, with an expected total card spending of THB425 billion (RM43.2 billion).

On October 5, national English daily The Star, whose executive deputy chairman Vincent Lee pumped RM2 million into Soft Space as an angel investor, reported that the company had landed a second Thai bank, Thanachart Bank, via its Thai partner Digio.

Chris Leong (right) Soft Space director of corporate and strategy planning and Chang Chew Soon Soft Space founder, October 8, 2013. — picture courtesy of Digital News AsiaChris Leong (right) Soft Space director of corporate and strategy planning and Chang Chew Soon Soft Space founder, October 8, 2013. — picture courtesy of Digital News AsiaIts regional business is certainly taking off. “We have also signed up VietinBank, one of the top acquiring banks in Vietnam, through our partner NganLuong,” said Leong.

NganLuong is one of Vietnam’s largest online payment and escrow platform providers for domestic and cross-border e-commerce. In April, Malaysia’s MOL Global Pte Ltd acquired a 50 per cent stake in the company.

All part of the MOL Global plan, you might say: Last October, MOL Global subsidiary MOL AccessPortal Sdn Bhd and Soft Space had formed a joint venture, MOLCube Sdn Bhd, which would act as a mobile payment third-party acquiring (TPA) company focusing on small and medium businesses (SMBs).

Meanwhile, Leong said Soft Space will soon be announcing “some deployments” with its partner Mint Wireless in Australia.

Mint Wireless, listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), announced in September that it was rolling out Mint mPOS, the first card-present payment solution for iOS and Android devices in Australia.

Things are also looking up (finally!) in Soft Space’s home base of Malaysia, which has been a tough nut to crack, with two banks expected to sign up, and one of them expected to “make an announcement soon,” said Leong.

“We are very excited with our current traction. We started with one bank early this year, but by the end of the year, we are looking into signing up a total of 11 banks,” he added.

Other APICTA winners

Soft Space joined 16 other individual category winners and 18 merit recipients which were recognised at an awards ceremony in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. The 2013 APICTA Awards, now in its 14th year, saw 345 submissions this year, MDeC said in a statement.

Once again, the newly introduced category ‘Best of Sustainability and Green IT’ saw an increase in entries which further cements the fact that Malaysians are committed to reducing the nation’s carbon footprint through ICT, the national ICT custodian said.

“The MSC Malaysia APICTA Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of individuals, students, entrepreneurs, SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and organisations which have directly and indirectly contributed to the development of MSC Malaysia initiatives,” said Che Azemi Haron, Deputy Secretary General II of Malaysia’s Ministry of Communications and Multimedia.

This would allow the cultivation of “local innovators and game changers who are ready to make Malaysia a global force to be reckoned with,” he said at the awards presentation ceremony.

Among the other winners were:

Best of Communication Applications: Near Field Communications (NFC) Tag in SIM Card, Empowering All Phones to Become NFC Tag (MDT Innovations Sdn Bhd);

Best of Industrial Applications: LEAN Mover (Movetech Sdn Bhd);

Best of eGovernment and Services: National Foreigner Registration (S5 Systems Sdn Bhd);

Best of Tertiary Student Project-Creative Multimedia: Monster Next Door (Multimedia University); and

Best of Primary Student Project: Intelligent Nursing System (Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina (SJKC) Yuk Chai).

All MSC Malaysia APICTA winner and merit recipients will go on to represent the country at this year’s International APICTA Awards which will be held in Hong Kong from November 24-27.

“The APICTA Awards … allow our local IT heroes, be they budding entrepreneurs or industry veterans, to showcase their achievements and innovations in the local ICT scene,” said MDeC chairman Abdul Halim Ali.

“Last year alone, Malaysia took home the top award in the Best of Security Application category, along with nine merit recipients for various categories at the regional APICTA Awards held in Brunei,” he added. “This no doubt speaks volumes of the capabilities of our homegrown participants.”

The winners and merit recipients were selected by a panel of judges consisting of local industry experts and ICT thought leaders. The chairman of the judging committee was Stan Singh-Jit, managing director of Wincor Nixdorf Retail Solutions (M) Sdn Bhd; while the co-chairman was Niran Noor, a vice president at MDeC.

The judges included Burhanuddin Md. Radzi, managing director of Les’ Copaque Production Sdn Bhd; Tejinder Singh, deputy chairman IT/SIG, The Institution of Engineers Malaysia; Assoc. Prof. Dr Ewe Hong Tat, vice president (Internationalisation and Academic Development), UTAR; and others. — Digital News Asia

* The article was originally published here