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Digital Pakistan Vision and Challenges

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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,

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Unveiling the Digital Evolution: Web2 vs. Web3 – Understanding the Shift Towards Decentralization and Blockchain

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Introduction:

The transition from Web2 to Web3 marks a significant paradigm shift in the ever-evolving Internet landscape. Web2, characterized by centralized platforms like Facebook and Google, is giving way to Web3, a new era embracing decentralization and blockchain technology. This article delves into the differences between Web2 and Web3, exploring the implications of this digital evolution on our online experiences and interactions.

Understanding Web2:

Web2, the current internet era, is dominated by centralized platforms that control and shape our online activities. Companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon have established themselves as giants, offering services that rely on centralized servers and databases to function. Users interact with these platforms through interfaces designed and controlled by the companies, giving rise to concerns over data privacy, censorship, and control.

The Rise of Web3:

Web3 represents a departure from the centralized model of Web2, embracing decentralization and blockchain technology. In Web3, users have greater control over their data and digital identities, thanks to decentralized networks that operate without a central authority. Blockchain, the underlying technology powering Web3, enables secure and transparent transactions, smart contracts, and decentralized applications (dApps).

Key Differences Between Web2 and Web3:

Centralization vs. Decentralization:

One of the fundamental distinctions between Web2 and Web3 is the approach to centralization. Web2 relies on centralized servers and platforms controlled by a single entity, while Web3 operates on decentralized networks where power is distributed among participants. This shift towards decentralization in Web3 promotes transparency, security, and user empowerment.

Data Ownership and Privacy:

In Web2, users often surrender their data to centralized platforms, which can lead to privacy concerns and data breaches. Web3, on the other hand, prioritizes data ownership and privacy by leveraging blockchain technology to give users control over their personal information. This shift empowers individuals to manage and monetize their data securely.

Trust and Security:

Centralized platforms in Web2 require users to trust the platform provider with their data and transactions. In Web3, trust is established through decentralized consensus mechanisms, such as blockchain’s immutability and transparency. This enhanced security model in Web3 reduces the risk of fraud, censorship, and manipulation, fostering a more trustworthy digital environment.

Implications of Web3 Adoption:

Decentralized Finance (DeFi):

Web3 has paved the way for decentralized finance (DeFi) applications that offer financial services without intermediaries. DeFi platforms leverage blockchain technology to enable peer-to-peer transactions, lending, borrowing, and trading, revolutionizing the traditional financial sector.

NFTs and Digital Ownership:

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have gained popularity in the Web3 space, allowing users to tokenize and trade unique digital assets. From digital art to virtual real estate, NFTs enable creators to establish ownership rights and monetize their creations securely and transparently.

Decentralized Social Networks:

Web3 is fostering the development of decentralized social networks that prioritize user privacy, content ownership, and censorship resistance. These platforms aim to empower users by giving them control over their data and interactions, challenging the centralized model of social media in Web 2.

Conclusion:

The transition from Web2 to Web3 represents a transformative shift in the digital landscape, emphasizing decentralization, blockchain technology, and user empowerment. As we embrace the principles of Web3, we are moving towards a more transparent, secure, and inclusive Internet ecosystem that prioritizes data ownership, privacy, and trust. By understanding the differences between Web2 and Web3, we can navigate this digital evolution with awareness and adaptability, shaping the future of the Internet for generations to come.

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LinkedIn Lays Off 668 Employees Amid Slowing Hiring Activity

Introduction In a move that reflects the broader economic downturn, LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional networking site, announced the layoff of 668 employees across its engineering, talent, and finance teams. This second round of job cuts in 2023 comes as the company faces a slowdown in hiring activity and a decline in advertising revenue. Impact […]

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Introduction

In a move that reflects the broader economic downturn, LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional networking site, announced the layoff of 668 employees across its engineering, talent, and finance teams. This second round of job cuts in 2023 comes as the company faces a slowdown in hiring activity and a decline in advertising revenue.

Impact of Layoffs

The layoffs, affecting more than 3% of LinkedIn’s global workforce, are a significant blow to the company and its employees. The affected individuals will undoubtedly face challenges in finding new employment amidst a tightening job market.

Reasons for Layoffs

Several factors have contributed to LinkedIn’s decision to reduce its workforce. The company cited a slowdown in hiring activity, a decline in advertising revenue, and the need to streamline operations to remain competitive in a challenging economic environment.

Wider Implications

The layoffs at LinkedIn are not an isolated incident. The technology sector, in general, has been experiencing a wave of job cuts as companies grapple with economic uncertainty and shifting market conditions. This trend is likely to continue in the near future, posing challenges for both employers and employees in the tech industry.

LinkedIn’s Response

LinkedIn has acknowledged the impact of the layoffs on its employees and has committed to providing them with severance packages and outplacement services. The company has also expressed its intention to continue investing in its core business and to emerge stronger from this period of economic uncertainty.

Conclusion

The layoffs at LinkedIn serve as a reminder of the volatile nature of the tech industry and the broader economy. While the company faces immediate challenges, it remains optimistic about its long-term prospects and is committed to adapting to the changing landscape.

FAQs

Q: How many employees were laid off by LinkedIn?

A: LinkedIn laid off 668 employees, representing more than 3% of its global workforce.

Q: Which departments were affected by the layoffs?

A: The layoffs primarily impacted LinkedIn’s engineering, talent, and finance teams.

Q: What are the reasons for the layoffs?

A: LinkedIn attributed the layoffs to a slowdown in hiring activity, a decline in advertising revenue, and the need to streamline operations in a challenging economic environment.

Q: How will the layoffs affect the company and its employees?

A: The layoffs will undoubtedly impact LinkedIn’s operations and morale, while the affected employees will face challenges in finding new employment.

Q: What is LinkedIn doing to support the laid-off employees?

A: LinkedIn is providing severance packages and outplacement services to assist the affected employees in their job search.

Q: What are the broader implications of the layoffs in the tech industry?

A: The layoffs at LinkedIn reflect a wider trend of job cuts in the tech sector as companies adapt to economic uncertainty and shifting market conditions.

Q: What is LinkedIn’s outlook for the future?

A: Despite the immediate challenges, LinkedIn remains optimistic about its long-term prospects and is committed to adapting to the changing economic landscape.

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Closure of Microsoft’s Activision Deal Approaches as British Approval Nears

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Introduction

In a groundbreaking move that could reshape the landscape of the gaming industry, Microsoft is closing in on a deal to acquire Activision Blizzard, one of the world’s largest and most influential video game companies. This monumental acquisition has been making headlines worldwide, and the recent signal of approval from Britain has added a significant chapter to the unfolding story.

With an ever-growing appetite for gaming content and an expanding portfolio of successful gaming-related ventures, Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision is poised to be a game-changer. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the details of this historic deal, its potential impact on the gaming industry, and what it means for gamers and investors alike.

The Microsoft-Activision Deal: A Closer Look

Microsoft’s pursuit of Activision Blizzard has been anything but subtle. The tech giant, known for its Windows operating system, Xbox gaming consoles, and cloud services, has been on a mission to bolster its presence in the gaming world. The proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, a gaming behemoth responsible for iconic titles like “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft,” and “Candy Crush,” represents a significant step towards achieving this goal.

As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, the deal was valued at a staggering $68.7 billion. However, keep in mind that figures might have evolved since then, as such deals tend to be dynamic and subject to regulatory approvals.

The British Regulatory Signal

One of the crucial developments in this ongoing saga was the signal of approval from Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). In February 2023, the CMA announced that it had no competition concerns regarding the proposed acquisition. This decision is pivotal, as it indicates a significant step towards the deal’s completion.

The CMA’s approval comes after months of rigorous scrutiny, where they assessed the potential impacts of the merger on competition in the gaming industry. The fact that Britain, a major player in the global gaming market, has signalled approval underscores the deal’s global implications.

Why This Deal Matters

  1. Consolidation of Power: The gaming industry has witnessed a trend of consolidation in recent years, with big players acquiring smaller studios and publishers. Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is arguably the most significant move in this direction, giving them even more control over a vast array of popular gaming franchises.
  2. Content Is King: In today’s gaming landscape, content is king. Microsoft is not just acquiring a company; it’s acquiring a treasure trove of iconic game franchises. “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft,” and “Candy Crush” are household names in gaming, and they have the potential to be leveraged across various Microsoft platforms and services.
  3. Expanding the Xbox Ecosystem: Microsoft’s Xbox ecosystem is about more than just gaming consoles; it encompasses PC gaming, cloud gaming via Xbox Cloud Gaming (formerly known as Project xCloud), and Xbox Game Pass. The acquisition of Activision Blizzard adds a plethora of content to this ecosystem, making it even more attractive to gamers.
  4. Competition and Regulatory Scrutiny: The gaming industry is no stranger to regulatory scrutiny. As gaming companies grow in size and influence, concerns about competition, consumer rights, and data privacy become more pronounced. The CMA’s decision to approve the Microsoft Activision deal is a significant marker in the ongoing conversation about regulating the gaming industry.
  5. Impact on Competitors: The Microsoft-Activision deal could have far-reaching consequences for competitors like Sony, Nintendo, and other major gaming studios. It could lead to more exclusive titles for Xbox platforms, potentially tilting the balance in the console wars.

Impact on Gamers

For gamers, this acquisition raises a myriad of questions and possibilities. Here are some key aspects to consider:

  1. Exclusive Titles: Historically, exclusive titles have been a major driver of console sales. With Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision, we could see more iconic franchises becoming Xbox exclusives. This could be a double-edged sword, offering exciting content to Xbox gamers but potentially leaving others in the cold.
  2. Cross-Platform Play: Microsoft has been a proponent of cross-platform play, allowing gamers on different consoles and PCs to play together. This acquisition might further push this agenda, leading to a more interconnected gaming world.
  3. Subscription Services: Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass, a subscription service that offers access to a vast library of games, could benefit immensely from the addition of Activision’s titles. Gamers may see more blockbuster titles available through this service, providing incredible value for subscribers.
  4. Innovation: With Microsoft’s deep pockets and commitment to innovation, we might see advancements in gaming technology and experiences. Cloud gaming, virtual reality, and augmented reality are all areas that Microsoft has been exploring, and the acquisition of Activision could accelerate these endeavours.
  5. Long-Term Impact: While this deal may lead to exciting developments in the short term, gamers should also consider the long-term effects. How will the industry evolve, and how will this deal shape the gaming landscape for years to come?

Impact on Investors

Investors, too, are closely watching this deal and its potential repercussions. Here are some points to consider:

  1. Stock Market Dynamics: The stock prices of both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard have been affected by news and developments related to this acquisition. Investors need to keep a close eye on market trends and expert analyses to make informed decisions.
  2. Potential for Growth: If the acquisition is successful, Microsoft’s gaming division could experience significant growth. This could be reflected in the company’s stock performance and dividends.
  3. Risks and Uncertainties: Like any major acquisition, this deal comes with risks and uncertainties. Regulatory hurdles, integration challenges, and market dynamics could impact the investment’s success.
  4. Diversification: For investors with holdings in the gaming industry, this acquisition could lead to a more concentrated portfolio. Diversification strategies may need to be adjusted accordingly.
  5. Industry Trends: This deal is a reflection of broader trends in the technology and entertainment industries. Understanding these trends can help investors anticipate future opportunities and challenges.

Conclusion

Microsoft’s imminent acquisition of Activision Blizzard is a game-changing development in the gaming industry. The recent signal of approval from Britain’s CMA is a significant step towards the deal’s completion, but it’s not the end of the story. The impact of this acquisition will reverberate through the gaming world, affecting gamers, investors, competitors, and the industry as a whole.

As the gaming industry continues to evolve, it’s crucial for all stakeholders to stay informed and adapt to the changing landscape. The Microsoft-Activision deal is just one chapter in the ongoing saga of innovation, competition, and creativity that defines the world of gaming. How this story unfolds will be watched with bated breath by millions of gamers and investors worldwide, eager to see what the future holds for their favourite pastime and its key players.

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