Pakistan is amongst such fortunate countries where youth Population is 60% of the Total Population. This percentage of the regular users of Digital services such as Digital payments or e-Payments, Internet Access and Professionals in Smartphone usage Provides infinite Opportunities to succeed as going digital.
It is the gigantic and innovative initiative taken by Prime Minister Pakistan to upgrade digital Banking infrastructure and easing the conditions or requirements and exhausting paperwork to avail digital services such as e-payments, online transactions and the issuance of credit cards, and their use at Online stores i.e in-store shopping, Fuel fill-up at stations, online utility Bill payments and Universities Fee Payment Gateways, but unfortunately, such easy and instant payment facility is currently available to Elite Business class and involves too much Paperwork, guarantees and regulations.
Government needs to overhaul the whole banking infrastructure and encourage businesses, retailers, Fuel Stations, PIA, Railways ticketing, superstores, schools and colleges to introduce payment gateways and banks should offer credit cards to businessmen and especially to government employees since they will use such services when they run short of funds, falling prey to illegal Interest-based lenders who squeeze them financially and socially.
The innovative digital payments will remove their financial constraints and the funds will be utilized based on a credit limit for 45 to 51 days and the bills can be paid through salaries decreasing chances for collateral damage or any default.
It would be great to boost and promote digital services paving the way for International digital bigwigs i.e. Google, PayPal, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Alibaba Group, Alipay, Stripe and Apple to enter Pakistani financial markets specially the PayPal, eBay and Amazon are strongly required by Freelancers and authors to get their Payments processed.
At Present, only Skrill, Payoneer and Traditional IBAN/Swift code or wire transfers are available to Pakistan which is very costly, Time consuming having inflated fees of 10% to 30% plus Bank charges of local Bank to process the amount.
On the other hand, our neighbouring country India has reaped the benefits digital world as the world’s best companies i.e. PayPal, Amazon and Google are serving the country with their innovative digital products and services.
By giving access to these Digital Payment Giants, Pakistan will open doors for Foreign Direct Investment and it will also reduce the heavily demanded Paper currency as People avoid using cash and prefer to use their credit and debit cards at online stores, in-store shopping purposes.
Even Pakistan’s governance Model may go ahead with modernizing and upgrading Reporting system, Complain Management, Receipts and Payments, Public Sector spending through an electronic dashboard that will refresh automatically if any Development related or Public sector transaction takes place. Even governance could improve if governance Model is implemented by imparting pieces of training to Staff, Officers and Officials at Federal, Provincial and District level so that proper reporting channel may be built to ease the complicated process and ensure transparency.
The Sale and Purchase of properties and estate should be digitized and automated so that revenue records may reflect the history of Property owners to do away with any claim or objection. The Ownership certificates, Heirship certificates, Birth Certificates, Domicile, PRC and all other certificates should be generated online through developing softwares, mobile applications of Android or ios devices that will reduce the process and improve the productivity of the Public sector Institutes.
The process of employees’ performance evaluation, superannuation and pension may also be automated so that the entire employment record will be available when they reach their point of promotion, superannuation or drawing pensions. The Personal IDs must be opened online through scale-wise Supervisors i.e. District Accounts Officers, Account Generals of Provinces and Accountant General of Pakistan so that trail may be available to track salary disbursements.
It is a commendable step by law and home departments to automate the Cause lists of the higher and lower judiciary but it must intimate the petitioners and respondents through SMS and email regarding their case status, date of hearing and disposing of the cases.
Furthermore, the process of voter lists should also be automated and Election Commission of Pakistan must make it available to all the citizens to register their vote when they reach at the age of 18 after getting their CNIC/Smart cards or Form B. This will enable district Election Commissioner Offices to enter the data online and consolidate the voter lists.
There should be central directorate of all the departments so that they may have coordination on digital grounds especially the FBR, AGP, Finance Ministry and Departments, Establishment division, cabinet division, NAB and Intelligence Directorates. Digital Pakistan vision will have a great impact to attract Foreign Direct Investment, strengthening of Rupee against Dollar, stabilization of the economy and discouraging paper currency that usually falls heavy upon rupee and due to substantial pressure, the rupee gets devalued and inflation jumps up.
We are too excited after Tanya Aidrus and Baqar’s statements during Digital Pakistan Vision launch and they were very confident that their sacrifices of higher paychecks for the sake of the country are highly appreciable but they will be facing resistance from the stakeholders who have been misusing the manual system for decades and it is an uphill task to compel such elements to adopt and use this digital Endeavour which will choke their corruption stream but may streamline things for the common people.
The other resistance will be from the provinces where PTI is on opposite Benches especially in Sindh and Baluchistan. It will be a big ask and the challenge that the initiated by IT and Telecom Ministry will achieve its desired objectives given the challenges of shortage of IT Skilled Staff and messed up the bureaucratic structure. The government should make the digital literacy a compulsory part in every ministry at Federal, provincial and district level by setting up IT Skill development centres to train the supervisory and office staff so that digital communication infrastructure may be implemented. There is no dearth of talent in our youth but they need support and sponsorship to do wonders.
Moreover, the Government should establish a venture capital firm to support, incubate, accelerate and fund the Startups that will ultimately develop and accelerate the mushrooming growth of big startups.
The entrepreneurship courses must be introduced with help of SMEDA, LUMS, IBA Karachi, IBA, Sukkur, SZabist, NUST, FAST, COMSATS, Virtual University and SDPI so that entrepreneurs may learn to launch their startups successfully to conquer the digital world.
The Startups such as Careem, Bikea, and Rozee.pk are some the great examples of successful Startups. Globally, the Youth after getting their education, start their businesses to create employment but in Pakistan youth after passing Graduation and Masters, start hunting for a job. That is why Pakistan has a high level of Unemployment as youth avoid entering the entrepreneurship since they lack skills, training and financial resources. Punjab IT Board has done a tremendous job by incubating, funding and accelerating startups in public sector under the Plan9 and PlanX programs but it should be followed by all the Provinces so the proper Startup culture could be developed.
Higher Education Commission, IT Boards, Technical Education, Intermediate education boards should promote digital Pakistan vision by introducing governance, payment solutions and fund the Ideas at School and college level.
It is a good sign that Online shopping Sites have experienced a mushrooming growth but mostly they accept the traditional Cash On Delivery Model (COD) which often causes losses if the customer returns the product or unavailable or Unwilling to receive the product.
Epayments ensure that product is shipped to the target buyer or customer who needs it. Though some Online shopping sites such as Popular Daraz.pk and Yayvo.com have started accepting Credit/Debit Cards issued by Pakistani Banks but still the number transactions is very low owing to hassles involved in getting credit cards from the banks.
At present, Only a few banks are issuing Credit Cards with Online Transactions and Point of Sale (POS) Transactions that include Standard Chartered Bank, unfortunately, limited to big cities such as Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Other one include Bank Al Falah which issues Credit Cards on quick processing lasting for 10 to 20 days.
Silk Bank is also the favourite bank of many customers who are interested in digital Transactions. Silk Bank offers a wide range of Credit Cards as per Income Levels of customers. UBL is also offering credit cards but it has too many conditions and terms.
Besides, these banks there other banks that are issuing credit cards such as HBL, MCB, ABL, Faisal Bank, Askari bank and JS banks. The average interest or Mark up charged 40% which is very high as compared to other countries. The government especially state Bank of Pakistan must direct the public and Private banks to lower the markup ratio and ease the conditions to avail this facility especially suited to salaried class and Businessmen.
In Big cities, credit cards are issued instantly by Commercial Banks to the salaried Employees of Government and Companies but in small cities, the untrained and local managers avoid issuing credit cards to customers since it involves risks of recovery or payment of credit Bill.
I have personally visited many banks where I maintain my bank account, but regrettably, all the managers expressed their inability or forbade to get Credit Cards since it is very costly and you cannot be issued credit cards in small cities.
Well, one will surely experience such embarrassment and inconvenience at the hands of Non-Professional Managers who are picked to only raise the deposits whereas the quality of service is compromised at the hands of such amateurs.
Therefore, Ms Tanya Aidrus head Digital Pakistan Vision and her team at Digital Pakistan Initiative will have to work out to appease the stakeholders to achieve the desired goals set as per the tenure of PTI so that Pakistanis may reap the benefits from this digital world.
To achieve this goal, the portfolio of IT and Telecom ministry must be given to a professional who should be well versed in IT and telecom preferably a Computer science or IT Graduate to pilot this project to achieve the goals in given clear framework.
There is also a big concern regarding inflated Taxes levied upon the business community which need to be reduced if they use Digital currency since Digital Currency will enable FBR to track payments and appraise the financial strength of the Individuals.
The e-Currency spectrum will help reduce the crime rate, tax evasion, hoarding of money as People will use credit cards and digital wallets such as PayPal, Ali Pay, Google pay those can easily be tracked and monitored through digital systems,
Will Digital Currency Replace Traditional Paper Currency in Pakistan? Implications and Possibilities
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In recent years, the world has witnessed a dramatic shift in the way we conduct financial transactions. The advent of cryptocurrencies, central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), and the widespread adoption of digital payment platforms have led to discussions about the future of traditional paper currency. Pakistan, like many other nations, is not immune to these developments. In this blog post, we will explore the possibilities and implications of digital currency replacing traditional paper currency in Pakistan.
The Evolution of Money
Before diving into the specifics of Pakistan’s digital currency landscape, it’s crucial to understand the broader context of the evolution of money. Money, in its various forms, has been a fundamental part of human civilization for thousands of years. From bartering to using precious metals like gold and silver to the introduction of paper currency and eventually digital payment systems, money has continuously evolved to meet the needs of society.
The Digital Currency Revolution
The emergence of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin in the early 21st century was a watershed moment in the history of money. These decentralized digital currencies promise greater transparency, security, and efficiency in financial transactions. While Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have gained traction globally, their use in Pakistan has been somewhat limited due to regulatory concerns and a lack of awareness.
Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs)
In response to the rise of cryptocurrencies, central banks around the world have been exploring the development of their own digital currencies known as Central Bank Digital Currencies or CBDCs. A CBDC is a digital form of a country’s official currency, issued and regulated by the central bank. These digital currencies have the potential to replace traditional paper currency, but their implementation raises several questions and considerations.
Pakistan’s Digital Currency Journey
As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, Pakistan had expressed interest in exploring the concept of a digital currency issued by its central bank, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). While no concrete plans had been announced at that time, the idea was being studied and debated within the country. Let’s take a closer look at the possibilities and implications of digital currency replacing traditional paper currency in Pakistan.
- Financial Inclusion:
- One of the primary advantages of digital currency is its potential to increase financial inclusion. Pakistan has a significant portion of its population that is unbanked or underbanked. Digital currency could provide these individuals with access to financial services, including payments, savings, and investments, through their smartphones.
- Reduced Transaction Costs:
- Digital currency transactions are often cheaper and faster than traditional banking methods. This could lead to reduced transaction costs for businesses and individuals, making it more cost-effective to conduct transactions and facilitate economic growth.
- Improved Monetary Policy:
- CBDCs can offer central banks more precise control over monetary policy. The State Bank of Pakistan would have real-time data on money flows, which could help in making informed decisions regarding interest rates and money supply.
- Enhanced Security:
- Digital currency transactions are inherently secure due to advanced cryptographic techniques. This could potentially reduce the risk of counterfeiting and fraud, which is a concern with paper currency.
- Cross-Border Transactions:
- Digital currency can simplify cross-border transactions, making it easier for Pakistanis living abroad to send remittances back home. This could have a significant positive impact on the country’s economy, as remittances are a vital source of income.
- Technological Challenges:
- The implementation of digital currency would require significant technological infrastructure and expertise. Ensuring the security and reliability of the digital currency system would be paramount.
- Regulatory Framework:
- Establishing a clear regulatory framework for digital currencies is essential to prevent misuse and illicit activities. Pakistan would need to draft and enforce regulations to govern the use and exchange of digital currency.
- Privacy Concerns:
- Digital currencies can raise concerns about privacy and surveillance. Striking the right balance between privacy and security would be a challenge for policymakers.
- Financial Literacy:
- Many Pakistanis may not be familiar with digital currency and how to use it safely. Promoting financial literacy and educating the public about the benefits and risks of digital currency would be crucial.
- Transition Period:
- Transitioning from paper currency to digital currency would not be seamless. The government and central bank would need to carefully manage the transition to minimize disruptions to the economy.
The possibility of digital currency replacing traditional paper currency in Pakistan is a complex and multifaceted issue. While digital currency offers several advantages, including financial inclusion, reduced transaction costs, and improved monetary policy, it also comes with challenges related to technology, regulation, privacy, and financial literacy.
As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, Pakistan was in the early stages of exploring the concept of a digital currency. Since then, developments may have occurred, and the government’s stance on the matter may have evolved. Therefore, it is essential for policymakers, financial institutions, and the public to engage in informed discussions and assessments to determine the best path forward for Pakistan’s monetary system.
The future of money is undoubtedly digital, but the transition should be managed thoughtfully to ensure that the benefits of digital currency are realized while addressing the potential risks and challenges. Pakistan has the opportunity to shape its digital currency landscape in a way that promotes economic growth, financial inclusion, and security for its citizens.
How BRICS Can Push De-Dollarization and Avert a Global Dollar Disaster
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The global financial landscape has long been dominated by the United States and its currency, the US dollar. This hegemony, often referred to as “dollar dominance,” has profound implications for the international monetary system, trade, and global economic stability. However, in recent years, there has been a growing sentiment among emerging economies that this dependence on the dollar exposes them to significant risks, especially in times of economic crises and geopolitical tensions.
As a response to this perceived vulnerability, the BRICS countries—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa—have been actively exploring ways to promote de-dollarization. In this blog post, we will delve into the reasons behind the push for de-dollarization, the strategies employed by BRICS nations, and the potential consequences for the global economy.
The Dollar Dominance Conundrum
The US dollar has held a privileged position in the international monetary system since the end of World War II. This status as the world’s primary reserve currency confers several advantages to the United States, including the ability to finance budget deficits and trade imbalances more easily and at a lower cost. The dollar’s dominance is also reflected in the fact that many commodities, such as oil and gold, are priced and traded in dollars. Furthermore, a significant portion of global trade is conducted in dollars, which means that countries must hold substantial dollar reserves to facilitate international commerce.
While the dollar’s dominance has benefited the United States, it has also created vulnerabilities for other nations. Here are some key concerns:
- Exposure to US Monetary Policy: Countries holding large reserves of US dollars are susceptible to the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve. Decisions regarding interest rates and quantitative easing can have a significant impact on the value of these reserves.
- Geopolitical Risk: The use of the dollar in international trade can expose countries to the risk of economic sanctions imposed by the United States. This has been a growing concern for nations like Iran and Russia.
- Exchange Rate Risk: Dependence on the dollar for trade and financial transactions can expose countries to exchange rate fluctuations, which can affect the cost of imports and exports.
- Dollar Depreciation: If the value of the dollar were to depreciate significantly, countries holding dollar reserves could experience substantial losses.
The Push for De-Dollarization
Recognizing these vulnerabilities, the BRICS nations have been actively pursuing strategies to reduce their reliance on the US dollar and promote the use of their own currencies in international trade and finance. Here are some of the key initiatives taken by BRICS countries to advance de-dollarization:
- Currency Swap Agreements: BRICS countries have entered into currency swap agreements that allow them to conduct trade and settle transactions using their own currencies rather than the US dollar. These agreements enhance financial stability by reducing exchange rate risk.
- Internationalization of National Currencies: China, in particular, has been at the forefront of internationalizing its currency, the renminbi (RMB or yuan). It has promoted the use of RMB in trade settlements and established offshore RMB clearing centres in major financial hubs.
- Bilateral Trade Agreements: BRICS nations have increasingly entered into bilateral trade agreements with each other and with other countries that allow for the use of their national currencies. This circumvents the need for the US dollar in trade.
- Development of BRICS Financial Institutions: The BRICS bloc has established its own financial institutions, such as the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA). These institutions provide an alternative to traditional Western-dominated financial organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
- Gold Reserves: Some BRICS countries, notably Russia and China, have been accumulating gold reserves as a means of diversifying their foreign exchange reserves away from the dollar.
Challenges and Barriers to De-Dollarization
While the BRICS nations have made significant strides in their de-dollarization efforts, they face several challenges and barriers in achieving their goals:
- Lack of Trust: The US dollar’s dominance is deeply entrenched, and there is a lack of trust in the stability of some BRICS currencies. Building confidence in their currencies will take time and require sound economic policies.
- Dollar’s Liquidity: The US dollar is highly liquid and widely accepted in international markets. Replacing it with other currencies will require substantial investments in infrastructure and financial instruments.
- Geopolitical Pressures: The United States has a history of using its economic power to exert political pressure on other nations. Countries pursuing de-dollarization may face resistance and retaliation.
- Dollar’s Network Effects: The dollar’s network effects, including its use in global financial markets and as a global reserve currency, create a powerful inertia that is challenging to overcome.
- Economic Stability: To attract international investors and users of their currencies, BRICS countries must demonstrate economic stability, low inflation, and robust financial systems.
The Potential Consequences
The push for de-dollarization by BRICS countries could have significant consequences for the global economy and the international monetary system:
- Reduced Dollar Dominance: If successful, the efforts of BRICS nations could lead to a gradual reduction in the dominance of the US dollar in international trade and finance.
- Increased Multipolarity: De-dollarization may lead to a more multipolar world, with multiple currencies playing a larger role in global finance. This could reduce the influence of any single nation.
- Shift in Economic Power: BRICS countries could see an increase in their economic and geopolitical influence as their currencies become more widely used in international transactions.
- Greater Financial Stability: De-dollarization efforts, such as currency swap agreements, could enhance financial stability by reducing the impact of exchange rate fluctuations on trade.
- Challenges for the United States: A decline in the dollar’s dominance could pose challenges for the United States, potentially making it more difficult to finance its budget deficits and trade imbalances.
The BRICS nations’ pursuit of de-dollarization is a response to the perceived vulnerabilities created by the US dollar’s dominance in the international monetary system. While the challenges are significant, the potential benefits of reducing dependence on the dollar, such as enhanced financial stability and increased economic autonomy, are driving these efforts forward.
De-dollarization is not a process that will happen overnight. It requires the development of robust financial infrastructure, the establishment of trust in national currencies, and a concerted effort to overcome the network effects that sustain the dollar’s dominance. Nevertheless, the BRICS countries are committed to the long-term goal of reshaping the international monetary system in a way that reduces the risks associated with overreliance on a single currency.
As these efforts continue to evolve, they will likely shape the future of global finance and have far-reaching implications for the United States and the rest of the world. The journey toward de-dollarization is one that merits close attention, as it has the potential to avert a global dollar disaster and usher in a new era of financial multipolarity.
The Rise of China: Navigating the Dragon’s Ascent
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In the 21st century, one of the most significant geopolitical and economic transformations has been the rise of China. From an agrarian society to a global superpower, China’s journey has been nothing short of remarkable. This blog post delves into the multifaceted aspects of China’s rise, exploring its historical context, economic prowess, political influence, and the global implications of this ascent.
I. Historical Context
To understand the rise of China, we must first appreciate its historical context. China’s civilization dates back thousands of years, with a rich history of dynasties, inventions, and cultural contributions. However, the 19th and early 20th centuries were marked by turmoil, foreign intervention, and internal strife, often referred to as China’s “Century of Humiliation.”
The establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 under the leadership of the Communist Party marked a turning point. The nation embarked on a path of self-sufficiency and rapid industrialization under Mao Zedong’s rule. The subsequent economic reforms, initiated by Deng Xiaoping in the late 20th century, paved the way for China’s modernization and global ascent.
II. Economic Powerhouse
China’s economic transformation has been nothing short of astonishing. It has evolved from a largely agrarian society to the world’s second-largest economy, trailing only behind the United States. This transformation can be attributed to several key factors:
- Export-led Growth: China became the “world’s factory” by offering low-cost manufacturing, attracting multinational corporations to set up production facilities within its borders.
- Infrastructure Development: Massive investments in infrastructure, including high-speed rail networks and modern ports, have facilitated economic growth and connectivity.
- Market Reforms: Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms allowed for elements of capitalism within China’s socialist framework, fostering entrepreneurship and innovation.
- Global Trade: China’s integration into the global economy, especially through organizations like the World Trade Organization (WTO), has further propelled its economic rise.
III. Political Influence
China’s political landscape has evolved in tandem with its economic growth. The Communist Party remains the dominant force in Chinese politics, maintaining control over all aspects of governance. However, it has also shown adaptability, embracing economic reforms while preserving its grip on power. Key elements of China’s political influence include:
- One-Party System: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) maintains strict control over the political arena, limiting the emergence of opposition parties.
- Social Credit System: China’s implementation of a social credit system has raised concerns about surveillance and privacy but also serves as a tool for social control.
- Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): The BRI, a massive infrastructure and economic development project, has expanded China’s influence across Asia, Africa, and Europe.
- Assertive Foreign Policy: China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and its approach to international diplomacy reflect its growing assertiveness on the global stage.
IV. Global Implications
The rise of China has far-reaching implications, affecting not only the country itself but also the rest of the world:
- Economic Interdependence: China’s economic integration into the global supply chain means that disruptions in its economy can have worldwide repercussions.
- Geopolitical Shift: China’s rise challenges the traditional power structures, leading to a rebalancing of power and influence on the global stage.
- Technology and Innovation: China’s investments in research and development, particularly in fields like artificial intelligence and 5G technology, are reshaping the technological landscape.
- Environmental Impact: China’s industrial growth has contributed to environmental challenges, making it a critical player in the fight against climate change.
The rise of China is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon with deep historical roots. Its economic prowess, political influence, and global implications make it a central player in the 21st-century world order. As China continues its ascent, it will be crucial for the international community to engage with China in a way that promotes cooperation, mitigates conflicts, and ensures a prosperous future for all. Navigating the dragon’s ascent will undoubtedly shape the course of the 21st century.
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