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Monday, September 18, 2023

Pakistan to expand international payment options

Dr. Saif emphasized the need to remove obstacles hindering the growth of Pakistan's IT exports in order to improve economy

In a bid to bolster Pakistan’s Information Technology (IT) sector, Caretaker IT Minister Dr. Umar Saif has unveiled an ambitious plan that could reshape the nation’s tech landscape. Following a meeting with Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar, Dr. Saif revealed a comprehensive project aimed at boosting the IT industry.

Expanding International Payment Options

One of the most significant announcements is the government’s intention to bring PayPal and Stripe to Pakistan. These globally recognized payment platforms have the potential to revolutionize online transactions in the country. Currently, Pakistani freelancers and businesses often face challenges in receiving payments from international clients due to limited payment gateways. The arrival of PayPal and Stripe could alleviate these issues and stimulate economic growth by facilitating seamless cross-border transactions.

Read More: HBL becomes first Pakistani bank to offer WhatsApp payment services

Boosting IT Exports

Dr. Saif emphasized the need to remove obstacles hindering the growth of Pakistan’s IT exports.

With the right support and infrastructure, he believes that the country can achieve an ambitious goal of $10 billion in IT exports. To achieve this, the government plans to collaborate with various stakeholders, including finance, commerce, energy, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). These consultations will aim to streamline policies and regulations to create a favorable environment for IT businesses to thrive.

Investing in Workforce Development

The IT sector’s success heavily relies on a skilled workforce. Dr. Saif’s plan includes initiatives to train and empower young Pakistanis, positioning them for careers in the IT industry. The government aims to prepare 200,000 IT professionals in collaboration with industry and academia. These professionals are expected to play a crucial role in increasing IT exports by an additional $5 billion. This commitment to education and skill development reflects a long-term vision for Pakistan’s IT sector.

Venture Capital and Startups

In a move that can be a game-changer for Pakistan’s startup ecosystem, Dr. Saif announced the creation of a government-backed Pakistan Venture Capital Fund. This fund aims to attract top-tier international venture capitalists (VCs) to invest in Pakistani startups. The ambitious goal is to secure $1 billion in VC investment, providing the much-needed capital for budding entrepreneurs. This initiative aligns with the global trend of fostering innovation through strategic investments in startups.

Enhancing Connectivity with Starlink

Connectivity is the backbone of the digital age, and Pakistan is not lagging behind. Dr. Saif’s plan includes the launch of Starlink in Pakistan, a satellite internet service by SpaceX. This move is expected to improve connectivity throughout the country, even in remote areas. The plan goes further by enabling active spectrum sharing and implementing forward-looking taxation policies and regulations to pave the way for the upcoming 5G auction within a short timeframe.

Promoting Local Smartphone Manufacturing

The government is also keen on promoting local smartphone manufacturing and export. This endeavor not only reduces dependency on foreign imports but also stimulates the domestic economy. To further enhance accessibility, a smartphone financing platform is in the works, allowing people to acquire smartphones through monthly installments. This initiative not only empowers consumers but also fosters local demand for smartphones.

Read More: Pakistan’s balance of payments crisis to worsen: APTMA warns

Pakistan’s IT industry is at a pivotal juncture, and Dr. Umar Saif’s comprehensive plan, endorsed by Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar, signals a new era of growth and innovation. The potential arrival of PayPal and Stripe, along with initiatives to train IT professionals, attract venture capital, enhance connectivity, and promote local manufacturing, sets the stage for a thriving IT ecosystem. With these measures, Pakistan is poised to become a formidable player on the global IT stage, driving economic stability and fostering a brighter future for its citizens.