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Pakistan’s central bank on track to launch digital currency

By Our Correspondent
June 02, 2023

KARACHI: Pakistan's central bank said on Thursday it is on track to launch a digital currency in the future, after making impressive progress in digital banking.

Shoukat Bizinjo, Additional Director of the Digital Financial Services Group at the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), said that a large number of central banks around the world, including Pakistan's, are studying CBBCs (callable bull/bear contracts) in order to launch digital currency in their respective countries.

"Pakistan's central bank is reviewing and consulting with other central banks in this regard (CBBCs and digital currency)," he said while speaking at the 16th international conference on Mobile Commerce 2023, organized by Total Communications.CBBCs are structured products. They are leveraged investments that track the performance of the underlying assets without requiring investors to pay the full price required to own the actual assets. Bizinjo said that the SBP is also in consultation with local industrial players to introduce digital currency.

He said that Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs) have made remarkable progress in e-banking through the launch of e-money wallets for consumers and merchants, and other digital payment instruments such as prepaid cards and contactless payment instruments.Currently, the country has four live commercial EMIs, including NayaPak, Finja, CMPECC, and Sada Tech Pakistan. EMIs have an outstanding e-money balance of Rs2 billion, managing 1.6 million e-money wallets and 2.4 million payment cards as of March 31, 2023.

There are around 12 EMIs at different stages of acquiring licenses from the central bank. There are also dozens of companies that are in constant talks with the SBP to become EMIs. Qasif Shahid, Co-founder and CEO of Finja, said that regenerative AI is more resilient and never gives up before completing the assigned tasks. "It is helping to create next-generation bots."Regenerative AI is helping to develop big video games in a matter of a couple of days. This has significantly reduced the production cost. He said that 70-80 percent of tech work will be done by non-tech people with the help of AI and machine learning in a few years.

Around 70 percentr of big companies around the world will move on to AI and machine learning in the next five years to improve their businesses. Syed Irfan Ali, President of the Industrial Development Bank, emphasized the need for institutions to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to force people to pay their taxes, find solutions to skyrocketing inflation, and improve the banking ecosystem in the country.

"AI and machine learning would help people make better decisions." At the same time, he emphasized the need for institutions to improve their cybersecurity infrastructure and systems, as cybercriminals are ahead of the industry in terms of breaching security walls and stealing valuable data. Najeeb Agrawalla, CEO of 1Link, said that they have launched new public solutions, such as paying passport fees and motor vehicle tax through mobile apps, instead of waiting in long queues for hours.