Digitisation of Pakistan’s economy—security aspects

He sounded so convincing, on the phone, with his posh English accent. I received his call from a local line, local to the scenic town, on the outskirts of London that I lived in, one of the home counties of England, where my wife was born and raised. Thankfully she was with me while I listened to the gentleman on the phone’s speaker. He craftily told me that my credit card had been used to pay a suspicious online transaction. In order for him to cancel the transaction, he required me to confirm my card details. Being a fighting army officer with a straightforward and no-nonsense kind of an upbringing, I most probably would have been taken in by the cheerful sounding man on the other end of the line, but the lawyer in my wife realised what was happening and to my surprise she told the man to “get lost”. After all, God did make wives to keep men on the straight and narrow.

Living in a digital economy can be quite challenging until you get used to it and even then, there is always an element of opportunity for the cons and crooks. Awareness about digital fraud coupled with law enforcement, equipped with dealing in digital crimes down to the police station level is very important.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his efforts to make “Naya Pakistan,” brought in the idea of a digital revolution, capitalising on the human resources in Pakistan. His government embarked upon the ambitious journey of digitising the economy. The move has only now started to pay off, and is just the beginning of a long journey of digitisation. Pakistan has the potential to turn the wheels of the economy through this digital revolution; in the financial sector in particular. The whole credit goes to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s team for starting this revolution.

The Pakistani remittance record through the Roshan Digital Account is one of the major success stories of this commendable effort. Prime Minister Imran Khan is making use of the international monetary system through the State Bank of Pakistan and is a good model to show the world about Pakistan’s investment potential, but it requires people to get used to the digital economy. For this initiative to succeed, the people of Pakistan have to voluntarily contribute. The success of digital banking initiatives and participation by citizens is an interdependent arrangement which will eventually run alongside the overall development of the country.

It however, must keep in view the security aspect of protecting the sanctity of a digital economy, making it safe from online financial frauds. It requires a comprehensive mechanism, having the muscle to enforce laws relating to the digital economy. Having a district level policing mechanism; with proper training, equipment and dedicated manpower will be a step ahead in future. It would be an investment which will create consumer confidence required for such a colossal change in mindset fixed on the cash economy. Even developed countries find it hard to cope with the number of financial crimes faced by them, due to shortage of manpower. If we can overcome this problem using the abundantly available workforce at an affordable price in Pakistan, then this would in turn revolutionise the people’s mindset due to the security offered by a digital economy. Voluntary enforcement is the key to a society’s success.

This is where Prime Minister Modi went wrong in India by forcing digitisation of the economy. He failed in his pitch to sell the idea which is now evident from the sorry state of the Indian economy, despite having seven times more potential than that of Pakistan, in terms of population-based growth of a digital economy. People simply don’t trust online transactions, due to everyday frauds originating in India. The Indian government faces the same problem as the developed world, that of having an underpowered policing system, unable to secure the digital economy and provide swift justice for petty financial frauds occurring regularly through con artists.

If we have to make a difference and take advantage of the digital system; roping in an attractive consumer market for investors, we must make an impregnable security system ensuring safety of a digital economy, free from financial crimes. The ultimate success of Pakistan’s digital economy depends on the security given to it.

“To have something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.”

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