MasterCard champions safe and secure payment transactions in Middle East and Africa

Karachi(CliffNews)Mastercard announced today that it is championing efforts to increase contactless payment limits across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region as people look for safer ways to pay in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative is in line with recommendations from global and regional health authorities and governments to practice social distancing that has led a growing number of merchants to encourage consumers to pay with contactless over cash to avoid human-to-human contact.Globally, Mastercard has been spearheading the transition to contactless for over 15 years. In MEA, the company has worked with various industry partners and sectors in multiple markets to increase the use of digital and contactless payment technology in an effort to enhance safety, security, speed and convenience in the payment experience for cardholders. In 2019, the MEA region saw >200% growth in contactless transactions. Today almost 1 in 9 Mastercard transactions at point-of-sale (POS) terminals in MEA are contactless.Central banks across the region in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Egypt have already increased the cardholder verification method (CVM) limit, which will ultimately improve purchase experiences for people across the region, making them safer and more convenient for consumers and businesses alike. Mastercard is working swiftly with all financial institutions, issuers and merchants to ensure this update is executed securely for shoppers in the region.“Mastercard remains committed to offering safe, secure, and simple payment solutions across the region. In the current environment, we are grateful that contactless payments are available so consumers can follow social distancing recommendations, and that people are embracing these safe and hygienic solutions as their preferred form of payment every day.  Today’s announcement reflects the pace of those changing behaviors, offering consumers ease, speed and peace of mind in a rapidly changing world. We will continue to work with our industry partners to guide and support them through this effort,” said Mete Guney, Executive Vice President of Services, Middle East & Africa at Mastercard.Presently, while following best practices from around the world, Mastercard is working closely with its partners to enable businesses and retailers to implement contactless limit increases quickly and efficiently. Contactless payments for transaction amounts below the CVM limits do not require a physical PIN entry, therefore this important move would allow cardholders to make higher value payments without having to touch the POS terminal keypad – enabling consumers to purchase more of what they need with the security and touch-free experience expected from contactless payments.Cardholders should look for the contactless symbol on the front or back of their credit or debit cards to determine whether they have a contactless-enabled card or can add their debit or credit card to their mobile wallets on their contactless-enabled devices to tap and pay where contactless payments are accepted.Mastercard’s effort to raise CVM limits is one of many the company is leading to do its part for its employees, customers and cardholders.  Most recently, the company announced a partnership with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust to accelerate the development and access to treatment for COVID-19 with the initial grant of US$20 million funding announced to three institutions to fund clinical trials. 




Coronavirus outbreak could lead to rising demand for IT products:CEO Huawei

Huawei Photo Release - Ren Zhengfei, CEO of Huawei

Karachi(Cliff News)Most employees at Huawei Technologies Co. are back at work following the coronavirus outbreak, though the pandemic is likely to hit the Chinese telecom giant’s financial results this year, the company’s chief executive said.Ren Zhengfei, who is also Huawei’s founder, also said that the company plans to boost its research and development budget this year by $5.8 billion to more than $20 billion.Huawei, like all global companies, is coping with the fallout of the coronavirus outbreak, which is curbing economic activity around the world. Mr. Ren said Shenzhen-based Huawei resumed some operations beginning Feb. 3, losing little production time and in line with a government ruling that allowed some critical industries to restart early despite a broader work stoppage.More than 90% of its approximate 150,000 China-based workforce is now back to work, though workers have cut overseas travel and increased their reliance on remote conferencing to carry on business. He added that the company has been helping hard-hit suppliers, including with medical supplies.“For a large number of international contracts, you don’t need to send people into the field,” he said. “Even in light of the current situation we can still manage to grow our revenue from our businesses.”The outbreak has also caused the company to lower its financial targets for the year, Mr. Ren said, though the specifics won’t be clear until next month. Already, smartphone sales are falling outside of China, he said, although the decline has been offset by strong domestic sales. Globally, Huawei is selling about 22 million units a month, a slight rise over last year’s pace.China is slowly returning to work after nationwide closures following the novel coronavirus outbreak, which began late December. The pandemic is just the latest obstacle for Huawei, the world’s largest maker of telecom equipment and No. 2 smartphone vendor, which has been fighting an avalanche of attacks from the Trump administration. U.S. officials have pressured allies not to buy the Chinese company’s 5G equipment. Last month, U.S. prosecutors unveiled new charges against the company, including racketeering and technology theft, which the company is contesting.“We certainly will defend our position against the U.S. charges,” Mr. Ren said. “It’s simply not a fact that whatever they say counts.”The renewed R&D push will likely help Huawei cut its dependence on U.S. technology, after the Trump administration blocked its access to some key suppliers, such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which had supplied crucial software no longer available on Huawei phones. Washington argues Huawei’s telecom gear can be used by the Chinese government for eavesdropping or disrupting telecom networks. Huawei says it would never spy on behalf of any government.Mr. Ren said he was confident Huawei would reach its new, downwardly adjusted financial goals for this year, despite the U.S. campaign and the coronavirus that is prompting a seize-up in global economic activity. The company previously said its revenue last year rose about 18% to $122 billion. Mr. Ren Wednesday said Huawei also saw a jump in net profits. The company is due to report audited financial results for 2019 by the end of the month.“That simply proves the trust the kind of trust that our customers place in Huawei—the kind of trust that has not been affected by the U.S. campaign against Huawei,” he said.One area of trouble is the company’s smartphone business. Though they are virtually unavailable in the U.S., Huawei handsets are top sellers in places like Europe, China and the Middle East, surpassing Apple Inc. in shipments globally and trailing only Samsung Electronics Co.Huawei’s U.S. blacklisting means that the company’s latest smartphones are locked out of Google’s mobile software, depriving the devices the day-to-day apps and services that handset users outside of China rely on. The company is working to plug the hole by building its stable of apps, though Mr. Ren acknowledged that smartphone sales are declining in markets outside of China.“In markets outside of China, we don’t see significant growth,” he said. “We are taking measures to address that.”Despite the restart of most of its business, some locations where Huawei operates remain on lockdown. One Huawei office in Wuhan, the center of the coronavirus outbreak, employs about 8,000 people, mostly in R&D functions. It remains largely closed even though Chinese authorities have begun lifting movement restrictions on residents in Wuhan’s province.However, Mr. Ren said he is optimistic that the outbreak could lead to increased demand for information-technology products amid a boost in network usage, as more people work and meet remotely.“After this pandemic is over, I think people would even more obviously see the value” of Huawei products, he said. “There is a possibility of accelerated demand in the network rollout, so it is a concern that we might not have enough capacity to supply.”

GE Healthcare takes additional actions to help clinicians combat coronavirus

Karachi(Cliff News)GE Healthcare to provide two updates on its continued efforts to support clinicians, governments and the broader healthcare community in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19). GE Healthcare and Ford Motor Company will work together to scale the production of ventilators, arming clinicians with medical equipment important in the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Through this collaboration, Ford will provide its technical and production expertise with the goal of manufacturing a simplified design of GE Healthcare’s existing ventilator. This new system would be built specifically to address urgent needs during the pandemic, equipped with the essential functions required to safely treat COVID-19 patients.“We are encouraged by how quickly companies from across industries have mobilized to help address the growing challenge we collectively face from COVID-19,” said GE Healthcare president and CEO Kieran Murphy. “We are proud to bring our clinical and technical expertise to this collaboration with Ford, working together to serve unprecedented demand for this life-saving technology and support clinicians as they meet patient needs.”“We’re so proud to be working closely with GE Healthcare on this important effort, and we have empowered our teams of engineers and designers to be scrappy and creative to quickly help scale up their production of this vital equipment,” said Jim Hackett, Ford’s president and CEO.Additionally, in alignment with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) guidance, GE Healthcare has provided information on its website on the use of its anesthesia devices for patients requiring mechanical ventilation. This information helps make ventilation capabilities more widely available to support patients with respiratory failure or difficulty breathing caused by COVID-19.Clinicians can use these details in the treatment of patients at their discretion. As a leading global provider of anesthesia devices with a global installed base of over 100,000 devices, this update provides immediate assistance in the global demand of ventilators.This update follows an earlier statement from Murphy around the company’s efforts to increase its manufacturing capacity for medical equipment, including ventilators. Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, GE Healthcare has doubled its capacity of ventilator production and has plans to double it again by end ofQ2 2020 to address unprecedented demand – independent of the collaboration with Ford. 

Nestle Pakistan reiterates its commitment for better water management

Lahore (Cliff News)Nestlé Pakistan commemorated World Water Day by pledging to continue playing its role in better water management and encouraging best practices to meet future needs. This year’s World Water Day theme ‘Nature and Climate Change’, underlines how water resources are linked with climate change.“Through the Caring for Water (C4W)-Pakistan initiative and as a signatory to the Clean Green Pakistan, Nestlé Pakistan is continuously looking for opportunities where it can make a difference,” said Waqar Ahmad, Head of Corporate Affairs, Nestlé Pakistan.He added further, “The C4W-Pakistan initiative lays out a clear and common water stewardship approach at the local level and focuses on a collaborative approach since we believe that collaboration is the key to protecting shared resources for the future.”“Under C4W-Pakistan, we are working with a wide range of partners including Punjab Agriculture Department, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC), Mango Research Institute (MRI), WWF and LUMS. C4W-Pakistan helps guide our efforts in our bid to contribute to UN SDG-6 on water resource management and sanitation,” he shared.“Nestlé Pakistan also aims to have all its operational sites in Pakistan certified with the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) by the end of this year,” he said.Nestlé has taken the lead by reducing its water use every year, and finding new ways of reusing it to ensure nothing is wasted. Nestlé Pakistan has partnered with the Agriculture Department, Government of Punjab to encourage local farmers to install drip irrigation. So far, Nestlé has successfully installed drip on 139 acres with an estimated water saving of 391 million liters annually. 

About Nestlé 

Nestlé is the world’s largest food and beverage company. It is present in 191 countries around the world, and its 328,000 employees are committed to Nestlé’s purpose of enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future. Nestlé offers a wide portfolio of products and services for people and their pets throughout their lives.




Azeem Iqbal Pirani appointed CEO for Pak-Qatar Family Takaful


Karachi(Cliff News)Pak-QatarFamily Takaful recently announced the appointment of Azeem Iqbal Pirani as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) effective March of 2020.Mr. Azeem Pirani has been associated with the Pak-Qatar Takaful group (PQT) since its inception in 2007.  He was last serving as Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO) at Pak-Qatar General Takaful. Mr. Azeem Pirani, as new CEO of Pak-Qatar Family Takaful, has taken charge from his predecessor, Mr. Nasir Ali Syed, who has taken the CEO role within another company of Pak-Qatar Group.Mr. Azeem Pirani has been working in various senior roles with the Pak-Qatar Takaful group of companies for over 12 years. These include his senior role in Pak-Qatar Family Takaful as Head of BancaTakaful. He has also worked as Regional Head for Pakistan at FWU AG. Further, he served as Head of Marketing and ADC at Meezan Bank also before 2007. Azeem brings over 20 years of diversified experience in Islamic Banking and Takaful. He actively promotes and provides National as well as International expertise on Islamic Finance and Takaful to various institutions worldwide.Commenting on his new role, Mr. Azeem Pirani said, “I am honored and excited to lead Pak-Qatar Family Takaful. I strongly believe that PQT, with its vision of providing financial protection through Takaful to everyone, has the potential to achieve its goal with the right mindset and collective team work.”Pak-Qatar Family Takaful is Pakistan’s pioneer and the largest family Takaful Company with over 100 branches in 91 cities nationwide.

Pakistan beats India to enter the QF of the Vitality Running World Cup

Karachi(Cliff News)Team Pakistan has beaten India to enter the Quarter Finals of the Vitality Running World Cup – a global running event which has been organized by Discovery Vitality South Africa. IGI Life Insurance, which represents Vitality in Pakistan has organized this running activity all over Pakistan, whereby they are actively engaging the young and old alike towards remaining fit and adopting healthy routines.This is a top honour for Pakistan as we were directly competing with India to enter the Quarter Finals within the Top 16 category. Many teams under the Pakistan umbrella have actively been running since the 5th of March and will continue to do so until the 4th of April, 2020. The IGI Life Vitality Pakistan team has more than 85 team members and is by far the most active team of the lot, with more than 1200 kms covered in just 15 days’ time. The philosophy behind this Vitality Running World Cup is that anyone can run from anywhere – which means that if someone wants to take a jog on their treadmill, in their street or in the nearby park, they are more than welcome to become a part of the Vitality Running World Cup. It is a healthy activity that is inculcating good habits within the people. It has been seen that those individuals who remain active more have much higher life expectancy rates than the ones who sit idle and have a sedentary lifestyle. This is one of the more important research facts as highlighted by Vitality worldwide.A bit about IGI Life Vitality – it is Pakistan’s first active life insurance product which rewards its customers based on their steps and heart rate activity in a weekly, monthly and annual fashion while securing their future with an underlying insurance policy. The motto of IGI Life Vitality is ‘Rewarding Life Every Day.’ Many renowned brands are linked with IGI Life Vitality – which puts the brand in a league of its own.


Zahid Ahmed signs for lead role of upcoming film “Ghabrana Nahi Hai”

WhatsApp Image 2020-03-18 at 5.07.33 AM (2)

Karachi(Cliff News)After giving innumerable laudable performances on the small screen, the actor who is known for his versatility Zahid Ahmed signs for the lead role of the upcoming film, ‘Ghabrana Nahi Hai’. This marks Ahmed’s debut on the Pakistani silver screen.‘Ghabrana Nahi Hai’ features the superstar Zahid Ahmed in the lead role opposite Saba Qamar. The two have appeared together in multiple projects on television in the past. For the film, Ahmed plays the role of a police officer helping a girl who is stuck amidst turmoil. In doing so, he hopes to impress her with a very elaborate lie and that forms the crux of the story. The actor’s last performance for the television drama ‘Ishq Zahenaseeb’ attracted a lot of appreciation. Talking about the film Ahmed opines,  “Ghabrana Nahi Hai is a complete family entertainer with subtle, yet impactful social messages built cleverly into the script. I am excited about my debut on the silver screen and am also thankful to the producers Jamil Baig and Hassan Zia for believing in me and giving me this solid opportunity.”‘Ghabrana Nahi Hai’ is produced by Jamil Baig, who is already recognized for his massive contribution in the revival of Pakistani cinema, by establishing the largest state of the art multiplex chain in the country, Nueplex Cinemas, and by co producing multiple films under the banner, Excellency Productions. Along with Jamil Baig, Hassan Zia is also co producing the film, he has produced several successful films and tele-dramas in the past two decades. The film is written by Mohsin Ali and directed by Saqib Khan. The star cast also includes Syed Jibran, Nayar Ejaz, Sohail Ahmed and Afzal Khan.Keeping the cast and crews’ health and safety in mind amidst the pandemic; the shoot of the film came to a pause as well. Other than ‘Ghabrana Nahi Hai’, Zahid Ahmed is also producing content for his YouTube channel. The date of his film release and more details of each project will be disclosed at a later date.