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We both caught the Coronavirus




My wife and I were both ill with the symptoms of COVID-19. While we were ill, we were looking for information about other people’s experience of COVID to understand how our symptoms could evolve. This is our experience, and this blog is written both by Tram Anh and me.

The context

We live in London, and are co-founders of the Centre for Finance, Technology and Entrepreneurship. Through our normal activities, we usually meet a lot of people every day.

However, because we have offices in Singapore and Hong Kong, we realised the seriousness of COVID very early on, and we knew that for a young company like ours, it could be hugely disruptive if a part of the team fell ill. A month ago, we therefore implemented our Business Continuity Plan for CFTE with the following measures:

  • Split the London team – and the management – in 3 different locations to make sure that a part of the management could continue to run the company if others were ill. Since Tram Anh and I are husband and wife, we would of course work in the same place
  • Decrease social interactions, and move physical meetings to videoconference when possible
  • Use hand sanitiser, stop sharing food in the office, stop hugging (which is a big thing at CFTE!)
  • Be healthy (sleep, food, vitamins) to avoid being ill (not just COVID, but any illness), because this is not a period where you want to be ill

Being in London, we knew however that our risk was still high – compared to Asia where people wear masks and have the experience of SARS –  but we wanted at least to decrease the risk to the team, and limit the contagion risk.

Despite our precautions, I fell ill, then 2 days after Tram Anh fell ill.

My symptoms (Huy)

  • Day 1: in the morning, we were filming one of our Senior Lecturers for a new course. This is always intense, but nothing out of the ordinary. We then had lunch, and he left. I felt a bit tired, so decided to go home at 4pm to avoid the rush hour in the Tube. An hour later, when I reached home, I was exhausted. I had some fever (38.2C), but especially a very high heart rate (120 beats per minute vs 70 usually). My respiratory rate was normal (16 per minute) and SPO2 too (98%). I drank a lot of water and went to sleep
  • Day 2: still fever around 38. Heart rate above 100, I slept 18 hours. I tried to have normal food, with a lot of water.
  • Day 3: still fever around 38. Heart rate above 100, I continued to sleep + normal food and water
  • Day 4: no more temperature, I still felt a bit tired, but nothing too concerning, apart from my heart rate that was a bit high (around 100).
  • Day 5: temperature went up again to 38.5, heart rate above 100, and I had body aches for the first time. I took 500mg of paracetamol, and went back to sleep.
  • Day 6: same
  • Day 7: temperature back to normal, heart rate a bit high
  • Day 8 and after: everything normal, the heart rate was a bit high, but then went back to normal.

Overall, I was tired with fever, but it wasn’t too serious. I still don’t know if it was COVID19. We called 111, and it was clear that only people who had been to high risk countries such as Italy or Iran, or were suffering from respiratory distress, would be tested. I was therefore not tested, and this is when I realised that the numbers in the UK were likely to be much much higher than reported.

My symptoms (Tram Anh)

Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash

Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash

Because Huy has had asthma since young, and because COVID19 is a respiratory disease, we thought that he was the one in the family who was most at risk of complications. I didn’t imagine I would be the one who who would have much more severe symptoms.

2 days after Huy got his symptoms, I started to feel ill too.

  • Day 1: when I woke up, I had a fever of 38.5. I also had a dry cough. By then, we were used to monitoring Huy’s symptoms, and we measured mine which were high (110 heart rate, 18 respiratory rate, 95 SPO2). I was extremely tired, and I had some food, water, and 500mg paracetamol, and went back to sleep.
  • Day 2: same
  • Day 3: same
  • Day 4: same. I was still extremely tired, and Huy made sure that I ate enough and had enough water / orange juice, and I just slept the whole day. During all these days, my temperature was around 38C
  • Day 5: Huy was talking to me and I felt very lightheaded, and couldn’t focus on what he said. I was extremely tired, and started to have difficulty breathing. We checked my temperature that had shot up to 39.5C and my respiratory rate was very high (25 per minute). Huy gave me 1g of Paracetamol and called directly 999. The ambulance came 2 hours later, and they monitored me. Thanks to the paracetamol, my temperature had gone down to 38, and my respiratory rate to 20, with my heart rate above 100. I wasn’t tested for COVID – although they said it was likely – and I was given antibiotics in case it was a bacterial infection.
  • Day 6: temperature above 39, I took 1g of paracetamol every 6 hours, and the temperature went down to 38 after this
  • Day 7: My temperature went back up to 39.5, I was coughing much more and had difficulty breathing again. I became extremely weak and semi-conscious. Huy gave me 1g of paracetamol immediately and called 999 again. When the ambulance arrived a couple of hours later, my temperature had gone down, but my heart rate was still very high, and they decided to bring me to the hospital. There was a special section to check people with the Coronavirus, and they took a sample of my blood, did an electrocardiogram and an X-ray of my lungs. My blood results showed that I had something (but we didn’t know if it was COVID since they didn’t test for COVID) and my X-ray was normal. They decided not to keep me so that I could better recover at home and not to be more exposed. I left the hospital in the middle of the night.
  • Day 8: temperature of 39, I continued to take paracetamol
  • Day 9: suddenly, my temperature went back to normal at 37
  • Day 10: Still tired, but apart from the cough, everything else is normal
  • Day 11: normal, still coughing
  • Day 12 : normal, still coughing
  • Day 13: normal, still coughing

Despite Huy being the “highest risk” person in the family because of his asthma, his symptoms were quite mild. On the other hand, I am normally quite healthy and would be considered “low risk”, and I had much more severe symptoms. This is the first time we had to call the ambulance for me (let alone two times), and there were very stressful moments when I was semi-conscious and could hardly breathe.

Our experience of COVID19 (Huy)

During the last 2 weeks, I spent quite a bit of time reading about the symptoms of COVID, and it seems that the most dangerous period seems to be around 1 week – which is what Tram Anh experienced.

Although Tram Anh is now almost fully recovered, she’s never had such a long period being in bed with high fever and difficulty breathing, despite not being in a category deemed at risk. Overall, after 14 days she is still coughing.

Also, we were quite careful to maintain social distance, but we still caught COVID, which explains why we see such a high contagion rate around the world.

Although Tram Anh had severe symptoms on Day 7, and was sent to the hospital, she still wasn’t tested for COVID. There is a lot of controversies around this topic – and as someone who teach about data-driven decisions, this is quite puzzling we don’t test – but what is very clear is that the number of actual cases in the UK is very seriously underestimated.

Our experience with the NHS

If there was a message from this blog, that would be the incredible support and professionalism we received from the NHS, despite all their challenges. There is no doubt that there is a huge demand on the NHS – for example, it took 15 minutes to be connected to the 999 emergency lines, although we were really at the beginning of the epidemic in the UK.

Despite being seriously understaffed however, the people on the phone were extremely professional. Both ambulance crews were amazing, with huge dedication, and that was exactly the same for the doctors and nurses at the hospital. There is really no words for us to express our gratitude to the amazing health professionals.

It is however very sad to see that these highly dedicated people lack even the most basic resources – from not being tested themselves to having not enough masks and protection. Anything that we can do to support our health system and the incredible health professionals will surely help – for example, we gave them masks and we also registered for NHS volunteers. I’m sure there are a lot of similar initiatives around the world, if you’d like me to list them here, just send me a message.

How to monitor your symptoms

The health systems everywhere are struggling under the volume of patients, and the instructions are usually to stay at home and call only if “your symptoms worsen”. But how do we know if our symptoms worsen? What does it mean exactly?

I am – clearly !- not a doctor, but tried to monitor our symptoms to see if they were improving or worsening. This is what I monitored:

  • Temperature. Normal body temperature is around 37C, fever above 38C, high fever above 39.5C and very high above 41C for an adult. Until 38.5C, we usually just drank a lot of water (because a fever also helps to kill the infection, so I didn’t want to suppress a temperature that wasn’t too high), but above 38.5C, we took paracetamol. (there is a lot of discussion about Ibuprofen, in doubt, we just took Paracetamol)
  • Heart rate. Normal heart rate is around 70 beats per minute. You can easily calculate your heart rate by feeling your pulse like this, or use your smartphone / smartwatch. For me, my heart rate went up to 120 in a couple of hours, and remained above 100 for a whole week. Tram Anh’s was also very high, which is why they decided to bring her to the hospital
  • Respiratory rate. Normal rate is around 12 to 16 per minute. This is easy to calculate by just counting the number of times you exhale every minute. When Tram Anh started to have issues breathing, her breathing went up to 20 then 25 per minute
  • SPO2. This is the quantity of oxygen in the blood. This is less common to monitor at home, but for a respiratory disease like COVID, this could be useful. A normal reading would be above 95%, and those who have a Samsung smartphone can use the Samsung Health app – otherwise you would need an oximeter
  • And of course we continued to monitor the main other symptoms (shortness of breath, cough) although it was more qualitative than quantitative.

This is a blog about finance, so please take this with a pinch of salt – and listen to what your body tells you as the most important signal.

For us, this was by monitoring these readings that we had some peace of mind that we were getting better or worse. We also didn’t want to call the ambulance unless absolutely necessary, and this is why we kept monitoring ourselves at home.

Ideally, you would want to take your measures when you’re in good health, to know what your reference level is.

I have attached a document I used to write down our symptoms – after a few days, it all becomes very hazy, we didn’t remember when we took paracetamol, etc. so that helped us monitor our conditions. Please feel free to print it or just copy it by hand. (It’s a Google doc that can be shared, so no file to download to decrease the risk of digital virus…)


If you have time at home, Contagion is a film we watched a few years ago, then again with the family in February. This is a very good film which shows how a pandemic spreads, and how we react to this – it’s quite scary actually to see how a movie from 10 years ago could almost be a documentary of today’s situation.

And for those with the children, the Local Authority Education Psychology Service has provided the following links to support anxious children/young people and for worried and concerned parents/carers on communicating with children.

1.     Downloadable A4 side of advice for parents/carers from British Psychological Society ‘Talking to Children about Coronavirus’

2.     Various helpful sources of information about coronavirus specifically for children

3.     Coronavirus: Keep it simple, stick to facts – how parents/carers should tell kids – BBC

4.     Atle Dyregrov and Magne Raundalen Clinic for Crisis Psychology, Bergen, Norway advice for talking to children:

5.     Carol Gray, well known for her work on ‘Social Stories’ for YP with ASD, has written a Social Story for Pandemics and the Coronavirus  PDF Pandemics and the Coronavirus. I would like to thank our school to sending use these links.


Although we were more prepared than many for the arrival of COVID19 in Europe, we still caught it. Some people will have mild symptoms (like Huy), but others will have more serious symptoms, although they are not in a high risk category (like Tram Anh). Although we were at the beginning of the epidemic, we could see that the health system was already struggling, so please take it seriously and stay safe at home.

This crisis will have very serious health, but also social and economic impact. For those of us who can help – even in the smallest ways – let’s try to support our communities and our society as much as we can.

Stay safe at home and stay healthy. It is the only way that we can stop this pandemic crisis.

PS: for readers of Disruptive Finance, you’d have noticed that my posts are getting less frequent… A lot of things have happened at CFTE and The Disruptive Group, which is great, but running two companies leaves me no time for blogging, which I regret. I use Linkedin much more now, so don’t hesitate to follow me there (just say you come from Disruptive Finance in the message and I’ll connect you).

If you want updates on Disruptive Finance and Fintech:

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5 Key Highlights From Huawei’s Developer Conference




From September 10 to 12, 2020, Huawei Consumer Business Group (BG) held the annual Huawei Developer Conference. Themed HDC.Together, the event saw multiple announcements being made, including the launch of new products, as well as updates on the Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) ecosystem.

Huawei’s developer community and app ecosystem

The HMS ecosystem has grown to now counting some 1.8 million developers worldwide, doubling that of last year’s Huawei Developer Conference. This figure makes the HMS ecosystem the third largest mobile ecosystem in the world, Zhang Ping’an, president of consumer cloud service at the Huawei Consumer Business Group, said during his keynote speech.

Within a year, the number of apps integrated with HMS Core, the hub for HMS, jumped 123% to reach 96,000. On the HMS App Gallery, Huawei’s equivalent of the Google Play Store on Android, the number of overseas apps rose 10-fold to 73,000.

Soaring global developer enrollment in the HMS ecosystem (PRNewsfoto/Huawei Consumer Business Group)

The HMS App Gallery now counts 700 million users worldwide, and 490 million monthly active users. Within the first eight months of 2020, the app store saw 261 billion app downloads.

New features and services for developers

The HDC.Together event also saw the introduction of five basic service engines for developers, including payment, search, map, browser and ads.

The HMS payment engine provides developers with global and localized mobile payment capabilities. Meanwhile, the HMS search engine covers over 20 vertical industries including app, sports, finance and more, and supports more than 50 languages. And the HMS map engine offers more than 180 million pieces of point of interest (POI) information and comes with capabilities such as route planning, drag-and-drop 3D scene layout, full-scene spatial computing capabilities and precise augmented reality (AR) walking navigation.

Five HMS basic service engines nurture global developer innovation, Huawei Developer Conference 2020 (Together), September 2020

Moving forward, Huawei said it will continue to expand its developer services offering. It added it is currently working on building three “ecosystem cooperation labs” in Russia, Poland and Germany. These locations will be providing enablement, testing, and certification services, the company said. Five global developer service centers will also be established in Romania, Malaysia, Egypt, Mexico, and Russia.

Southeast Asian push

Huawei has been working towards expanding its footprint across Southeast Asia.

In the Philippines, Huawei partnered with Kumu, a livestreaming app, to launch a mother’s day-themed campaign in May. The two-week campaign saw the livestream videos broadcasted reach more than a million users, and generate a 220% increase in Kumu’s premium users as well as a 40x growth in in-app purchases.

In Thailand, Huawei onboarded the likes of Wongnai, one of the leading lifestyle apps focusing on the food and beverage industry, and LINE MAN, an on-demand delivery service app covering taxi-hailing, messenger, parcel delivery and more, onto its ecosystem earlier this year.

And in Malaysia, multi-channel media group Star Media Group (SMG) added all of its six apps, namely The Star, Star ePaper, Star Property, Kuali, 988, and Dimsum Entertainment, onto AppGallery in October 2019.

But Huawei has much bigger global ambitions as it intends to act as a bridge between China and the rest of the world. The company said that since last year, it has helped over 700 partners enter the Chinese market.

Launch of HMS Core 5.0

The HDC.Together event also saw the launch of the HMS Core 5.0, which comes with open capabilities in seven main areas including App Services, Graphics, Media, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Smart Device, Security and Systems.

In AI, HMS Core 5.0 comes with the ML Kit, which provides text, speech, language, images, as well as face and body detection service to help developers build AI apps easily and efficiently. In Graphics, the Computer Graphics Kit offers open capabilities centered around GPU technology to support game developers with a high-performance rendering framework and a series of rendering plug-ins to improve game screen rendering efficiency.

HMS Core 5.0 opens 56 kits and 12,981 APIs, spanning 7 service categories, Huawei Developer Conference 2020 (Together), September 2020

Product launches

During the Huawei Seamless AI Life New Products Global Launch event on September 10, Huawei Consumer BG officially launched six new products, including two new earphones products, two smartwatches, and two PCs.

In the earphones product line, Huawei introduced the Huawei FreeBuds Pro and the Huawei FreeLace Pro, new pro-variants of its highly acclaimed audio products featuring improved active noise cancellation, new designs and user-centric features.

Huawei also unveiled the two new additions to its Huawei Watch family: the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro and the Huawei Watch Fit. The two new smartwatches are the latest entries to Huawei’s wearable product line-up with new fitness data tracking features and workout modes.

Finally, Huawei introduced the Huawei MateBook X and the Huawei MateBook 14, two new lightweight notebooks with compact form factors and advanced features and capabilities including Multi-screen Collaboration, Wi-Fi 6 support, multi-touch, as well as a 2K/3K Infinite FullView Display.

Richard Yu, Executive Director and CEO of Huawei Consumer BG, keynote speech at the Huawei Seamless AI Life New Products Global Launch event, September 10, 2020

Featured image: Wang Yanmin, President of Global Partnerships and Eco-Development at Huawei Consumer Business Group, Huawei Developer Conference 2020 (Together) keynote speech, September 2020, via Huawei.

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CoinJar builds world-class cryptocurrency exchange on AWS




CoinJar used AWS to build a fast and reliable digital currency exchange, ensure financial compliance and security best practices, and scale its platform within 5 minutes during spikes in API requests. CoinJar is Australia’s longest-running cryptocurrency and digital payments platform. It uses Amazon ECS to automate infrastructure deployment, Amazon Aurora as its primary relational database, and Amazon Rekognition to automate identity verification.

“We see a lot of opportunities in the scalability of our products because we were built for a global market on AWS from day one.”Ryan Zhou, Cofounder and COO, CoinJar

Digital-First, Product-Focused

Despite their rising popularity, cryptocurrency platforms are still loosely regulated in most countries, and new entrants to the market regularly come and go. CoinJar, Australia’s longest-running digital currency exchange, has built a reputation for security and reliability since its founding in 2013. It’s one of more than 300 registered digital currency exchanges sanctioned by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), the country’s financial intelligence agency. To date, CoinJar has more than $75 million in digital assets and 450,000 customers, most of whom are based in Australia.

CoinJar is a cloud-native, digital-first company that launched on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud. Its three founders share a strong engineering background, and they chose AWS for its excellent security track record and global presence. As a startup, they also wanted to keep CoinJar product-focused. “Setting up with AWS couldn’t have been easier,” says Ryan Zhou, cofounder and chief operating officer at CoinJar. “We were able to onboard independently and could deploy our first web application on a world-class cloud platform within weeks.”

Ensuring Financial Compliance

CoinJar partners with banks, brokers, and other financial institutions to offer its products to customers. As such, it must ensure compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and provide a resilient disaster recovery plan.

The startup uses AWS Web Application Firewall (AWS WAF) to protect its web applications and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) to support disaster recovery through automated backups of its database. “We rely on AWS both to help with compliance requirements and to ensure we have a reliable infrastructure built with security best practices in mind,” Zhou says.


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Gen Z Versus Millennials – Who Fared Better at Saving Money and Budgeting?




When it comes to saving habits, Singaporean Gen Zs (aged 18 – 23) are savvier than their millennial counterparts (aged 24 – 39), a survey by personal finance website SingSaver found.

Conducted across August and September, the survey analysed 1,000 responses from these two demographics across Singapore to better understand their saving habits, investing habits and financial knowledge

The survey found a whopping 85% of Gen Zs started saving before the age of 22, while just 41% of millennials did the same. It also appears that younger Singaporeans have more determination when it comes to budgeting, as 65% of Gen Zs say they stick to their budget “often” and “very often”, as compared to 56% of millennials. 

However, millennials (47%) are more prudent than Gen Z (35%) when budgeting, saving and investing – perhaps due to their added responsibilities and the prevailing pandemic-induced economic uncertainty. 

This uncertainty has also prompted 48% of Gen Z and millennials to research more about personal finance. This improved financial knowledge could be why 71% of Gen Zs and millennials “agree” or “strongly agree” that they are confident their emergency savings fund is able to cover 3 to 6 months of expenses. 

When asked about investing, a significant 80% of Gen Z and millennials said they invest, but 6 in 10 of these respondents said they are “very new to” or “have a basic understanding of” investing. Interestingly, SingSaver saw a 324% increase in interest for investment-related content since January 2020, based on page view growth across different demographics.

And although retirement might not be front of mind, more Gen Z cited saving for retirement (39%) as their biggest motivations for investing, while millennials are concerned with gaining financial freedom (45%). 

The top three investment products Gen Z and millennials prefer to invest in are bonds/stocks (59%), real estate (41%) and mutual funds (35%). Despite a large proportion of Gen Z and millennials investing, nearly two thirds (57%) of the respondents still use a basic, low yield savings account. This indicates an opportunity for continued education within regards to personal finance. 

When asked what some of their biggest challenges are when managing personal finance since the outbreak of Covid-19, millennials (38%) in particular feel that they do not have adequate knowledge and guidance when managing personal finance as compared to Gen Z (26%). 

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