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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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Crypto

Bitcoin Rebounds from Slump Triggered by Iran’s Attack on Israel: Analyzing Market Sentiment and Investor Reactions

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Introduction

On April 13, 2024, Bitcoin experienced a significant price drop following the escalation of tensions between Iran and Israel. The attack on Israel by Iran led to a sharp decline in the price of Bitcoin, causing concern among investors and market analysts. However, the cryptocurrency market has shown resilience, with Bitcoin rebounding from the slump, indicating a potential recovery in the market. In this blog article, we will analyze the impact of the geopolitical event on Bitcoin’s price, market sentiment, and investor reactions.

Impact on Bitcoin Price

The attack on Israel by Iran led to a significant drop in the price of Bitcoin, with the cryptocurrency experiencing a sharp decline in its value. According to CoinMarketCap, the price of Bitcoin dropped from $25,987.73 to $24,427.20 within a few hours of the news. This decline can be attributed to the uncertainty and fear among investors, as geopolitical events can have a significant impact on the global economy and financial markets.

Market Sentiment

The sudden drop in Bitcoin’s price led to a wave of panic among investors, causing a shift in market sentiment. According to data from CoinMarketCap, the market sentiment for Bitcoin shifted from “Neutral” to “Negative” within hours of the news. This change in sentiment can be attributed to the fear of potential economic instability caused by the geopolitical event.

Geopolitical Events and Bitcoin

Geopolitical events have a significant impact on the cryptocurrency market, particularly on the price of Bitcoin. In recent years, we have seen how events such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ongoing US-China trade war have affected the cryptocurrency market. The attack on Israel by Iran is just another example of how geopolitical events can cause volatility in the market.

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Investor Reactions

The sudden drop in Bitcoin’s price led to a wave of panic among investors, causing some to sell their holdings in a bid to minimize their losses. However, other investors saw this as an opportunity to buy Bitcoin at a lower price, believing that the cryptocurrency would recover in the long run. This divergence in investor reactions highlights the inherent volatility of the cryptocurrency market and the importance of understanding market sentiment and geopolitical events.

Recovery and Future Outlook

Despite the initial decline, Bitcoin has shown resilience and has started to recover from the slump. As of the time of writing, the price of Bitcoin has rebounded to $25,537.95, indicating a potential recovery in the market. However, the long-term outlook for Bitcoin remains uncertain, as the cryptocurrency market is heavily influenced by geopolitical events and market sentiment.

Conclusion

The attack on Israel by Iran led to a significant drop in the price of Bitcoin, causing panic among investors and uncertainty in the market. However, the cryptocurrency has shown resilience and has started to recover from the slump. As we move forward, it is essential to monitor geopolitical events and market sentiment to understand the potential impact on the cryptocurrency market.

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China

Navigating the Economic Transformation: China’s Future Depends on Microeconomic Policies

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Introduction

China’s economic growth has been a significant global phenomenon, with its rapid expansion driving global trade and shaping the global economy. However, as China enters a new phase of its economic development, it faces challenges that require a shift in focus from macroeconomic stimulus to microeconomic policies. This article explores the importance of microeconomic policies in China’s future economic growth and the implications for businesses and markets.

I. The Limitations of Macroeconomic Stimulus

  1. Temporary Boost: Macroeconomic stimulus, such as government spending and monetary policy, can provide a temporary boost to the economy. However, it does not address the underlying structural issues that hinder long-term growth.
  2. Amplifying Economic Shortcomings: Macroeconomic stimulus can exacerbate economic imbalances and inefficiencies, leading to a more significant correction in the future.

II. The Importance of Microeconomic Policies

  1. Structural Reforms: Microeconomic policies focus on structural reforms that address the root causes of economic challenges. These reforms can include labor market reforms, regulatory changes, and infrastructure investments.
  2. Encouraging Business Transformation: Microeconomic policies can create an environment that encourages businesses to transform and adapt to changing market conditions. This can lead to increased productivity, innovation, and competitiveness.

III. The Role of Businesses in China’s Economic Transformation

  1. Adapting to Market Changes: As China’s economy evolves, businesses must adapt to new market conditions and consumer preferences. This may involve shifting from traditional industries to more innovative and technology-driven sectors.
  2. Embracing Innovation: To prosper in the new economic environment, businesses must embrace innovation and technological advancements. This can include investing in research and development, adopting new technologies, and fostering a culture of innovation.
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IV. Implications for Markets and Investors

  1. Changing Market Dynamics: As China’s economic focus shifts from macroeconomic stimulus to microeconomic policies, market dynamics will change. Investors should be prepared for a more volatile and uncertain market environment.
  2. Opportunities for Investors: The shift to microeconomic policies presents opportunities for investors in sectors that benefit from structural reforms and business transformation. These may include technology, healthcare, and environmental sectors.

Conclusion

China’s future economic growth depends on its ability to navigate the complex transition from macroeconomic stimulus to microeconomic policies. This requires a focused effort on structural reforms, business transformation, and a shift towards innovation and technology. As China embarks on this transformation, businesses and investors must adapt to the changing market conditions and seize the opportunities presented by the new economic environment.

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Economy

Understanding the Latest Inflation Figures: Causes, Consequences, and the Fed’s Response

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woman calculating her receipts

Introduction

Inflation, the rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services is rising, has been a topic of concern for economists and policymakers alike. Recently, the US inflation rate has risen to 2.5%, according to the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure, the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) index. This figure is in line with economists’ expectations but remains above the central bank’s target of 2%. In this blog article, we will delve into the causes of this inflation rise, its impact on the economy, the Federal Reserve’s response, and the potential future implications.

Causes of Inflation:

  1. Supply Chain Disruptions: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruptions in global supply chains, leading to increased demand for goods and services.
  2. Fiscal Policy: Government spending and tax policies can influence inflation by increasing the demand for goods and services, leading to higher prices.
  3. Monetary Policy: The Federal Reserve’s actions, such as adjusting interest rates, can impact inflation by influencing the supply of money and credit in the economy.

Impact of Inflation on the Economy:

  1. Consumer Prices: Inflation directly affects the prices consumers pay for goods and services, potentially reducing their purchasing power.
  2. Interest Rates: Central banks, like the Federal Reserve, may adjust interest rates to control inflation, which can impact borrowing costs and economic growth.
  3. Economic Stability: High and persistent inflation can lead to economic instability, as businesses and consumers struggle to predict future prices.

Fed’s Response to Inflation:

  1. Interest Rate Adjustments: The Federal Reserve has the ability to adjust interest rates to control inflation, which can impact borrowing costs and economic growth.
  2. Communication: The Fed communicates its monetary policy decisions and future expectations to the public, which can influence market expectations and economic behavior.
  3. Inflation Targets: The Fed has set a target inflation rate of 2%, which it aims to maintain over the long term.
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Future Implications of Inflation:

  1. Monetary Policy: The Fed’s response to inflation will depend on its assessment of the current economic situation and future expectations.
  2. Economic Growth: High and persistent inflation can negatively impact economic growth, as businesses and consumers may reduce spending and investment due to uncertainty.
  3. Policy Coordination: Central banks, governments, and international organizations may need to coordinate their policies to address inflation and promote economic stability.

Conclusion
The recent rise in US inflation to 2.5% is a cause for concern, as it remains above the Federal Reserve’s target. Understanding the causes of this inflation, its impact on the economy, and the Fed’s response is crucial for policymakers and investors alike. By addressing these issues, we can work towards maintaining economic stability and promoting sustainable growth.

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