Taiwan has been an outlier during the coronavirus pandemic. By preventing community transmission before mid-May, it had been able to carry on mostly as normal, with even activities like singing and drinking at KTV considered completely normal. Many people expected that it would continue in this state indefinitely, until the rest of the world caught up and life returned to the way it had been before the pandemic. In fact, since early 2020, outside of Taiwan life has changed dramatically, whether in advanced or developing countries. Lockdowns have deprived families of last chances to see their relatives, weakening familial ties.
Therefore, Taiwan should cherish the time it has had over the past year. During that time, through research, and through costly trial and error, we have learned about the virus and its testing methods, and treatments. The vaccines developed abroad and in Taiwan will deprive the virus of the ability to spread exponentially.
Now, as Taiwan starts level 3 containment measures, it is only entering a stage that many other countries are familiar with. It has become much more difficult for the Taiwan Center for Disease Control (CDC) to track the source of each infection. Instead, its primary goal is now to prevent uncontrolled spread. In other words, we must assume now that the virus is everywhere. But because of the year we bought, we have medical expertise, an ample supply of protective equipment like masks, and plenty of alcohol-based hand sanitizer. We are no longer fighting bare-handed. As long as we are vigilant, we can hold on for another half year before mass vaccination. We must wait patiently for the light at the end of the tunnel.
In fact, looking at the experiences of foreign countries over the past year, whether it is hotel modification to provide space for work from home (WFH), or wider use of AI and robotics to participate in epidemic prevention, a number of industries have evolved quite comprehensively in response to the pandemic. Technology companies responded in a timely manner to the large number of WFH workers to provide a better user experience. Microsoft’s Teams communication platform designed functions such as virtual commutes and fatigue detection to improve work-life balance in the WFH world. These developments mark the advent of the "post-epidemic innovation" era.
Financial services have also undergone great changes. Institutions have increased fintech use, and adjusted service concepts and compliance functions. In order to maintain uninterrupted services, Taiwan’s Financial Securities Commission (FSC) also considered the use of mobile video pilots to temporarily replace personal signatures and meetings. Taiwan will likely also refer to the industry experiences of other countries for these applications, helping develop its financial industry in the post-epidemic innovation era.
Physical branches of banks will not only improve disinfection, but also reposition themselves and add value to their online services. We should use this level 3 period to test our attitudes, and acknowledge that the future has come. Only through more applications and innovations can we continue this momentum in the post-pandemic world.
The future is here. Let’s capitalize on the opportunities. Meanwhile, in six months’ time, we will be able to gather at the KTV for drinks.