Malaysians win 3rd place in APEC App Challenge

‘Wanderer’ is designed to offer a safer shopping experience for the public amid the Covid-19 pandemic


A PAIR from Malaysia has been named second runner-up at the 2021 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) App Challenge which ended last Saturday.

Alvine Choo and Christine Choo’s entry named “Wanderer” was designed to offer a safer shopping experience for the public amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement yesterday, New Zealand as the host nation announced that the Malaysian duo will receive US$2,000 (RM8,256).

New Zealand Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor said the coding competition, which was held virtually from May 14 to June 5, attracted 170 participants from 13 APEC member economies.

The programming event, supported by The Asia Foundation and Google LLC, was held on the eve of the 2021 APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade meeting.

In line with the current challenges of the pandemic, the fifth edition of the APEC App Challenge required software developers and designers from across the region to build new mobile and web tools that can help the revival of the tourism sector and promote a safe and trustworthy travel environment.

This is especially pivotal as the APEC region prepares for a resumption of travel, said O’Connor.

“As member economies work to facilitate the movement of people around the region, it is important to pursue digital tools that support the resumption of travel — when the time is right.

“The safe resumption of crossborder travel will be critical to the region’s recovery,” he said after announcing the winners.

He added that returning to sustainable tourism numbers will support a wide range of businesses, boost employment and underpin inclusive growth.

Meanwhile, Australians Bryce Cronin and Saira Ambrose won the competition with their “OneQR Check-In” app which was developed to help travellers scan and complete their safety check-ins quicker.

The app works by showing travellers what QR check-in app they need to use or install when they travel to a different location.

If the local check-in app has been installed on the traveller’s phone, OneQR will redirect travellers to the app.

Otherwise, OneQR will direct travellers to the phone’s app store to install the local safety check-in app.

“We believe that the safety check-in process should be quick, easy and simple,” said Ambrose, who will receive a prize of US$4,000.

He added that the application is aimed to contribute to the rebuilding of the confidence towards the tourism sector, both for businesses and travellers.

First runner-up was another Australian team who won US$3,000 with “Seirios”, an app to help travellers rediscover local attractions with a Covid-19 safety rating.

Last year, international arrivals dropped by an unprecedented 74% while Asia Pacific suffered an 84% slump in overseas visitors and recorded the greatest decrease in tourist numbers at 300 million, according to the World Tourism Organisation.

The pandemic has also wiped out some 81 million jobs last year across Asia-Pacific region and employment levels are still in contraction compared to 2019.

Google Asia-Pacific president Scott Beaumont said the leverage of technology could assist tourism to rebound, noting that local economies and livelihoods across Asia Pacific were crucially hit by the pandemic.

“There is a long road to recovery, but technology can help the industry rebuild and emerge stronger, and these brilliant developers are showing us t