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Pakistan introducing regulations, licensing scheme for crypto firms

(Article published by Yogita Khatri with same title in CoinDesk)

Pakistan is putting in place regulations for the cryptocurrency industry. The Express Tribune, citing finance ministry sources, reported that the nation’s federal government has decided to bring in Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs) regulations following recommendations from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

According to the new framework from the country’s central bank, the State Bank of Pakistan, EMIs must meet certain requirements to be licensed by the country’s government, with firms that do not follow rules facing suspension or cancellation of licenses.

Companies would have to meet capital requirements, undergo scrutiny of executives, take measure to protect users’ funds and carry out customer due diligence, including storing personal details such as name, ID card number, address and telephone number.

Pakistan is introducing the rules to encourage payments innovation and “promote financial inclusion” in the nation, the State Bank said in a statement.

A ceremony will be held at the Islamabad office of the State Bank of Pakistan Monday, to welcome in the new rules, The Express Tribune says.

FATF, a global money-laundering watchdog, has warned that cryptocurrency poses a risk for money laundering and terrorist financing several times in the past. The watchdog is also expected to publish rules for international cryptocurrency regulation by June.

The task force said last October that global jurisdictions will have to bring into force licensing schemes for crypto exchanges. Digital wallet providers and companies offering financial services for initial coin offerings (ICOs) will also be included under the new rules.

“There is an urgent need for all countries to take coordinated action to prevent the use of virtual assets for crime and terrorism,” FATF said at the time. In February, FATF reportedly said that Pakistan has made only “limited progress” on curbing money laundering and terrorism financing, adding that it would continue to work with the country to fight such illegal activities.

Pakistan Central Bank eyes digital currency launch by 2025

(Article published by Yogita Khatri with same title in CoinDesk)

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the country’s central bank, is considering the launch of a digital currency by 2025. According to a report from news source Dawn, SBP deputy governor Jameel Ahmad said that the central bank is currently working on the digital currency concept in order to “promote financial inclusion and reduce inefficiency and corruption.”

The central bank is also reportedly planning to make its services “fully digitized and technology equipped” by the year 2030.

In light of the proposed digitization efforts, Pakistan’s finance minister Asad Umar asked the central bank and the country’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to ensure cybersecurity in the banking system, the report adds, as a failure here could cause damage to confidence in the system and the economy.

The SBP also published new regulations for Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs), a classification that covers cryptocurrency firms. As per the new rules, EMIs must meet certain requirements to be licensed by the country’s government, with firms flouting the rules to face suspension or cancellation of licenses.

The officials made their comments at a ceremony to mark the launch of the new regulations on Monday. With the regulations in place, the central bank said in a statement that it expects upcoming EMIs to offer “convenient, cost effective, interoperable and secure digital payment products and services to end users.”

The finance minister said: “It is our government’s policy to encourage the use of e-commerce amongst [the] public through awareness campaigns to promote a culture of e-commerce, which supports electronic business transactions at national, regional and international levels.”

5-star Swiss hotel set to accept bitcoin payments

The Dolder Grand, a five-star hotel based in Switzerland, will begin accepting bitcoin payments starting May 1.

Once the new payment method goes live, guests can pay for accommodation, food and beverages or spa treatments using bitcoin. Inacta AG’s mobile app Inapay will then convert bitcoin payments into Swiss franc or euro “as soon as the payment has been completed,” according to the statement, meaning that the hotel itself won’t handle cryptocurrency.

The Dolder Grand’s director of finance André Meier said: “Many of the improvements in our service in recent years were made possible by advances in technology. As we believe bitcoin is here to stay, it only seems natural to offer more choices in the payment process.”

The bitcoin payment option was featured earlier as part of a pilot project with Inacta AG.

Hotels across the world have been accepting cryptocurrency payments since as early as 2014. U.S.-based travel agency CheapAir started service to allow bitcoin users to book hotel stays with the cryptocurrency back in February 2014. In July of that year, Canada-based Sandman Hotel Group started accepting bitcoin as a form of payment for room reservations. More recently, Spain-based Casual Hoteles started accepting bitcoin payments on a pilot basis in February 2019.

Gartner report reveals top 10 strategic technologies impacting HE

(Article published with same title on EdTechnology)

Research firm Gartner Inc. has released new research that highlights the top 10 strategic technologies that should be on the radars of higher education CIOs this year. Including technologies such as artificial intelligence and career software, the list presents a varied list of tech in which HEIs should be investing in 2019.

Glenda Morgan, senior research director at Gartner, said: “Institutions looking to thrive in the expanding education ecosystem must leverage technology early on that enables them to become more innovative.”The top 10 strategic technologies impacting higher education in 2019 are:

Next-gen security and risk management

Factors such as global regulatory compliance and the growing Internet of Things (IoT) landscape are forcing HEIs to address security and risk with a more multidimensional strategy.Morgan said: “The average modern-day student expects seamless personalised experiences, so the typical security objectives of confidentiality, integrity and availability must expand to include privacy, safety and reliability as institutions become more digital.”

Artificial intelligence conversational interfaces

AI conversational interfaces are a subset of conversational user interfaces, in which both user and machine interactions occur. These interfaces include growing educational resources such as chatbots.According to the 2019 CIO Agenda Survey, the percentage of HEIs that have, or plan to, deploy AI conversational interfaces has grown from 18% to 38% in the last year.

Smart campus

The smart campus is a model that sees the interaction between humans and technology-enabled systems in order to create a more immersive and automated experience for students and staff.A growing number of HEIs are moving towards smart campus improvements, and Morgan commented that the move is a “win all-around, except for the data security implications that come with most technology initiatives today.”

Predictive analytics

Predictive analytics use machine learning techniques to analyse data to recognise patterns and assess likely outcomes. This kind of analytics is used in everything from calculating student demand for a certain course, to identifying students’ risks of failing or dropping out.Predictive analytics is one component of the approach we call ‘big data’.

Nudge tech

This is a collection of technologies, including cloud, mobile, social, and data, that work together to achieve personalised interaction with students and staff, such as text reminders for classes.Morgan said: “The idea behind ‘nudging’ is for institutions to use data to impact behaviours, like establishing good studying habits or making time for fitness between classes.“Nudge tech is a concrete example of how to achieve personalisation at scale, which is becoming a key competitive advantage in an increasingly global and digital education ecosystem.

Digital credentialing technologies

Digital credentials such as degree certificates are a growing trend in HE in response to the increasing ease of faking paper documents. Tech such as blockchain has played a major role in this evolution, as well as the growing role of professional networking sites such as LinkedIn in job searching.Digital credentials allow students and employers to exchange verified proof of education quickly and seamlessly, and improving data encryption means that they can be trusted by recipients.

Hybrid integration platforms

HEIs are increasingly adopting cloud-based solutions, whilst still working with on-premises systems. A hybrid integration platform is rapidly becoming the reference framework for next-gen integration software, in order to help HEIs streamline processes across their cloud and physical solutions.

Career software

Students are increasingly demanding concrete employability outcomes from their university experience, and as such the importance of career software has peaked across the globe.

Student cross-life cycle CRM

A student cross-life cycle CRM allows for a single view of a student, throughout their educational phases. Beginning with pre-higher education, the campus-wide, 360-degree view of the student allows a broader view of how the student is moving through education.

Wireless presentation technologies

Presentations are often a large component of university courses, and wireless presentation tech allows users to project material from a computer or mobile device onto a screen using a wireless network. This removes the need for wired connections and adapters, and supports the growing BYOD phenomenon.

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