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Economy

Digital Pakistan Vision and the Challenges

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The world is going digital and countries hopping on the new platform are the ones reaping the benefits most out of it. Pakistani authorities have been working to achieve the goal but there are several challenges in acquiring a digital Pakistan.

Pakistan is among such fortunate countries where the youth population is 60% of the total population. This percentage of regular users of digital services such as digital payments or e-payments, internet access and professionals in smartphone world provide infinite opportunities to succeed in 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.

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 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 neighboring 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 the 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 the Federal, Provincial and District levels so that proper reporting channels 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 software mobile applications of  Android or ios devices that will reduce the process and improve the productivity of the Public sector Institutes.

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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.

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

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 a 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’s 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 digital literacy a compulsory part in every ministry at the Federal, provincial and district levels by setting up IT Skill development centers 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, Bykea, 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 entrepreneurship since they lack skills, training, and financial resources.

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

Punjab IT Board has done a tremendous job by incubating, funding and accelerating startups in the 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.

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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.

E-payments ensure that the 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 of 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 favorite 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.

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

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 a given clear framework.

There is also a big concern regarding inflated Taxes levied upon the business community which needs 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 pays those can easily be tracked and monitored through digital systems.

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China

Western Moves to Contain China’s Rise and The New Global Order!

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I. Introduction

Many Western countries are actively working to limit China’s rise to power on the global stage. Their approach involves utilizing international law and norms to create a narrative that portrays China as a potential threat to the current world order. This strategy aims to curb China’s influence and prevent it from becoming a dominant force in the international community. By constructing this narrative, Western countries hope to gain support from other nations and strengthen their positions in the global arena. However, this approach may also lead to increased tensions and conflict between China and the West.

II. Western Countries’ Efforts to Contain China’s Rise

A. Use of International Law and Norms

Western nations have strategically harnessed international law and norms to impede China’s rise. This involves leveraging their diplomatic and economic influence to mould a narrative that portrays China as a disruptor of the established global equilibrium.

B. Creation of a Narrative Portraying China as a Threat to the World Order

The West, through its geopolitical manoeuvring, has meticulously crafted a narrative painting China as a menace to the prevailing world order. This narrative, however, raises questions about its veracity, as it seems detached from objective facts and is utilized to rationalize Western aggression against China.

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C. Lack of Factual Basis for the Narrative

Scrutinizing the narrative reveals a notable absence of a factual foundation. The depiction of China as a global threat appears to be a strategic fabrication, a tool wielded to legitimize Western actions against China and rally international support.

D. Use of the Narrative to Justify Western Aggression Against China

The narrative portraying China as a threat serves as a pretext for Western aggression against the emerging global power. This aggressive stance, built on a shaky foundation, not only distorts the reality of China’s peaceful rise but also contributes to an increasingly precarious global situation.

III. China’s Response to These Challenges

A. Efforts to Create a New World Order

In response to the challenges posed by Western containment strategies, China is actively engaged in creating a new world order that prioritizes equity and inclusivity. This involves a departure from the traditional power dynamics and a quest for a more balanced and fair global system.

B. Focus on Equity and Inclusivity

China’s approach to reshaping the world order underscores a commitment to equity and inclusivity. By advocating for a fair and just global environment, China aims to foster cooperation, mutual respect, and understanding among nations.

IV. Conclusion

A. Recap of the Main Points

The central theme revolves around Western attempts to stifle China’s ascent, deploying international law and norms to construct a narrative that casts China as a global threat. tIt also analyses China’s response, emphasizing its pursuit of a new world order marked by equity and inclusivity.

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B. Final Thoughts

The Western endeavours to contain China’s rise carry significant implications for global stability. Recognizing China’s ascendancy and engaging in collaborative efforts to construct a more equitable and just world order is not only prudent but essential for fostering a harmonious and cooperative international community. As we navigate these complex geopolitical waters, the imperative is to move beyond adversarial narratives and embrace a shared vision for a better future.

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Economy

Fidelity National Financial Hacked: Real Estate Industry in Chaos

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In a significant setback to the real estate and mortgage industry, Fidelity National Financial (FNF), a Fortune 500 company that provides title insurance and settlement services, was forced to take down its entire network on November 22, 2023, following a cybersecurity incident. The attack, which is still under investigation, involved the unauthorized access of FNF systems using exfiltrated credentials.

The shutdown of FNF’s systems has had a widespread impact on the real estate industry, causing significant disruptions to title insurance, escrow, and mortgage transactions across the United States. The company’s customers, which include lenders, real estate agents, and homeowners, have been left scrambling to find alternative solutions to complete their transactions.

The Scope of the Attack

Details about the nature of the attack remain limited, but FNF has acknowledged that the cyberattack involved the unauthorized access of its systems and the potential theft of sensitive data. The company has not confirmed whether the attack was ransomware-based, but the fact that it took down its entire network suggests that it may have been a sophisticated attack.

The impact of the attack has been felt throughout the real estate industry. Lenders have been unable to issue title insurance, which is required for most home purchases. Real estate agents have been unable to close deals, and homeowners have been left in limbo, unable to finalize their home purchases or refinance their mortgages.

FNF’s Response to the Attack

In response to the attack, FNF has taken a number of steps to mitigate the damage and restore its systems. The company has brought in cybersecurity experts to investigate the attack and implement corrective measures. It has also been working to restore its systems and services as quickly as possible.

FNF has also been communicating with its customers about the attack and the steps it is taking to address the situation. The company has set up a dedicated website to provide updates on the progress of the investigation and restoration efforts.

The Impact on the Real Estate Industry

The cyberattack on FNF is a stark reminder of the growing threat of cyberattacks in the real estate industry. As more and more businesses rely on technology to conduct their operations, they become increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks.

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The attack on FNF is likely to have a lasting impact on the real estate industry. Businesses will need to invest more in cybersecurity measures to protect their systems and data. They will also need to be more vigilant in detecting and responding to cyberattacks.

Recommendations for Real Estate Businesses

In light of the cyberattack on FNF, here are some recommendations for real estate businesses:

  • Implement strong cybersecurity measures. This includes using strong passwords, firewalls, and antivirus software. Businesses should also regularly back up their data.
  • Educate employees about cybersecurity. Employees should be trained to identify and avoid phishing scams and other social engineering attacks. They should also be aware of the company’s cybersecurity policies and procedures.
  • Have a plan for responding to cyberattacks. This includes having a team in place to investigate and respond to attacks. Businesses should also have a plan for communicating with customers about cyberattacks.

Cyberattacks are a growing threat to businesses of all sizes, including those in the real estate industry. By taking proactive measures to protect their systems and data, businesses can help to reduce their risk of being attacked.

The Aftermath of the Cyberattack

The cyberattack on Fidelity National Financial (FNF) has had a significant impact on the real estate and mortgage industry. The attack has caused widespread disruptions to title insurance, escrow, and mortgage transactions, and it has left businesses and consumers scrambling to find alternative solutions.

Impact on Title Insurance

Title insurance is a crucial part of the real estate closing process. It protects lenders and homeowners from financial losses caused by defects in the title to a property. The cyberattack on FNF has made it difficult or impossible for lenders to issue title insurance, which has caused delays in closings and has left some homeowners unable to finalize their purchases.

Impact on Escrow

Escrow is a process in which a third party holds funds and documents for the benefit of two or more parties involved in a real estate transaction. The cyberattack on FNF has disrupted escrow services, causing delays in the transfer of funds and documents. This has made it difficult for buyers to pay for their homes and for sellers to receive their proceeds from the sale.

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Impact on Mortgage Transactions

The cyberattack on FNF has also had an impact on mortgage transactions. The company’s systems are used to process mortgage applications and to verify loan documents. The shutdown of these systems has made it difficult for lenders to process mortgages, which has caused delays in loan closings.

Impact on Consumers

The cyberattack on FNF has also had a direct impact on consumers. Homebuyers and sellers have been left in limbo, unable to finalize their transactions due to the disruptions caused by the attack. This has caused financial hardship and frustration for many consumers.

The Road to Recovery

FNF is working to restore its systems and services as quickly as possible. The company has brought in cybersecurity experts to investigate the attack and implement corrective measures. It is also working to communicate with its customers about the attack and the steps it is taking to address the situation.

However, it is unclear how long it will take for FNF to fully recover from the attack. The company’s customers are likely to face continued disruptions in the coming weeks and months.

Lessons Learned

The cyberattack on FNF is a stark reminder of the growing threat of cyberattacks in the real estate industry. Businesses need to take proactive measures to protect their systems and data. They should also be prepared to respond to cyberattacks quickly and effectively.

Here are some lessons that can be learned from the cyberattack on FNF:

  • Cyberattacks are a real threat to businesses of all sizes.
  • Businesses need to invest in strong cybersecurity measures.
  • Businesses need to educate their employees about cybersecurity.
  • Businesses need to have a plan for responding to cyberattacks.

By taking these steps, businesses can help to reduce their risk of being attacked and can minimize the impact of an attack if it does occur.

Conclusion

The cyberattack on Fidelity National Financial is a major setback for the real estate and mortgage industry. The attack has caused widespread disruptions and has left businesses and consumers scrambling to find alternative solutions. It is a stark reminder of the growing threat of cyberattacks and the need for businesses to take proactive measures to protect themselves.

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Economy

Unveiling the Megacities: A Comprehensive Look at the World’s Urban Giants

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Introduction

In the vast canvas of global urbanization, megacities emerge as the epicentres of human civilization, shaping the narrative of our collective existence. This meticulously crafted exploration aims to peel back the layers of the top ten largest cities worldwide, offering an intricate tapestry of insights that go beyond mere statistics.

From the pulsating energy of Tokyo’s technological marvels to the historical grandeur of Istanbul’s dual-continent embrace, each city becomes a chapter in the dynamic saga of urban life. Join us on this journey as we dissect the unique characteristics that propel these megacities into the forefront of global attention, transcending borders and unlocking the essence of modern living.

1. Tokyo: A Technological Wonderland

Tokyo, the pulsating heart of Japan, emerges as a seamless blend of tradition and innovation. Boasting a skyline that mirrors its technological prowess, the cityscape is punctuated by iconic landmarks such as the Tokyo Tower and the Shibuya Crossing. With a population density that defies expectations, Tokyo’s efficient public transport system intertwines the fabric of this sprawling metropolis.

2. Delhi: The Cultural Melting Pot

In the vibrant tapestry of India, Delhi stands tall as a cultural melting pot. From the historic Red Fort to the bustling markets of Chandni Chowk, every corner whispers tales of a bygone era. The city’s rich history, coupled with its contemporary vigor, makes it a fascinating subject of exploration for locals and tourists alike.

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3. Shanghai: The Economic Powerhouse

Shanghai, a beacon of China’s economic ascent, commands attention with its glittering skyline along the Huangpu River. As a global financial hub, Shanghai epitomizes the rapid evolution of China’s economic landscape. The juxtaposition of colonial architecture in the Bund and futuristic skyscrapers in Pudong paints a vivid picture of the city’s dynamic identity.

4. SĂŁo Paulo: Latin America’s Megacity

SĂŁo Paulo, the sprawling megalopolis of Brazil, pulsates with a rhythm uniquely its own. Nestled within the lush landscape, this city is a testament to the resilience and vibrancy of Latin American culture. From the bustling Paulista Avenue to the tranquillity of Ibirapuera Park, SĂŁo Paulo captivates with its diverse offerings.

5. Mumbai: The Maximum City

Mumbai, India’s financial powerhouse, unfolds as a narrative of contrasts. The city’s iconic skyline, adorned with skyscrapers, stands in stark contrast to the serene shores of the Arabian Sea. With Bollywood at its heart and the Dabbawalas weaving through its streets, Mumbai encapsulates the essence of India’s cultural diversity.

6. Beijing: Where Tradition Meets Modernity

Beijing, China’s ancient capital, showcases a kaleidoscope of history and innovation. From the Forbidden City, a testament to imperial grandeur, to the avant-garde architecture of the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium, Beijing seamlessly intertwines its rich heritage with a vision for the future.

7. Istanbul: Bridging Continents

Istanbul, straddling Europe and Asia, unfolds as a city where history and geography converge. The Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque are timeless witnesses to the city’s imperial past. The Bosphorus Strait, a natural masterpiece, not only divides but also unites this city of two continents.

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8. Lahore: Pakistan’s Cultural Gem

Lahore, a jewel in Pakistan’s crown, resonates with an aura of cultural grandeur. Standing as architectural marvels, the Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque reflect the city’s Mughal legacy. The bustling streets of the Walled City exude an old-world charm, inviting exploration into the heart of Pakistan’s cultural heritage.

9. Shenzhen: The Silicon Valley of Asia

Shenzhen, a testament to China’s technological prowess, emerges as the Silicon Valley of Asia. With a skyline dominated by sleek skyscrapers, the city is a breeding ground for innovation. From the vibrant electronics markets to the avant-garde architecture, Shenzhen epitomizes the fusion of technology and commerce.

10. Jakarta: Southeast Asia’s Megacity

Jakarta, the vibrant capital of Indonesia, unfolds as a sprawling metropolis between the Java Sea and the Bogor Highlands. From the historic remnants of the Old Town to the modernity of the National Monument, Jakarta encapsulates the diversity and dynamism of Southeast Asia.

Conclusion

By dissecting the stories of these megacities, we are able to see beyond national borders and gain insight into the global pulse of urban life. Every city adds to the rich tapestry of human civilization with its own fusion of modernity and tradition, providing a mosaic of experiences that capture the spirit of urban life and pique the imagination.

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