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.”

Pakistan’s Maaz Masood Ansari wins ACCA’s Regional Advocate of the Year award

ACCA Picture

Karachi(Cliff News)ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) has recognised Maaz Masood Ansari, Executive Director Financial Advisory, Deloitte, with its Regional Advocate of the Year Award for Middle East and South Asia (MESA) region.
The ACCA member from Pakistan, Maaz, was lauded for his contributions to developing professional accountancy across Pakistan, particularly in supporting Deloitte trainees and employees at department level further develop and become ACCA members themselves.“ACCA’s Advocacy Awards are not about career achievement but about the way that ACCA members give back to their communities, and help ACCA to develop the next generation of professional accountants. ACCA members in Pakistan are a driving force at the forefront of the accounting industry. Maaz has set a great example for all professionals in the country on how they can lead the profession into the future by dedicating their efforts to developing future-ready talent.” – Sajjeed Aslam, head of ACCA Pakistan.Stuart Dunlop, ACCA’s regional director – MESA said: ‘Maaz Masood Ansari is an active ACCA member and advocate that has supported ACCA Pakistan immensely with his personal and professional networks, most notably at Deloitte. The collaboration between Deloitte Pakistan and ACCA Pakistan has generated many opportunities for the recruitment of talent and connecting us with employers and members as well as hosting CPD events, conferences and more. Congratulations Maaz on your great achievements for ACCA.’Commenting on his contributions, ACCA’s regional head of member affairs, Haroon A. Jan, said,‘Maaz has been instrumental in collaboration between ACCA and Deloitte on holding the CPEC conference in Pakistan, which was a big success in creating awareness on the economic potential of CPEC for Pakistan. Initiatives like these are an example of working in the public interest, which is core to our membership fabric.’‘ACCA holds Pakistan Leadership Conversation annually which brings topical global developments to the professionals in the country. Once again Maaz played a key role in the building an exemplary partnership between ACCA and Deloitte, which was pivotal to achieving the objectives of the event. The impact of Maaz’s contributions was recognised by all the judges of ACCA’s Regional Advocacy Awards. The judging panel consisted of senior ACCA members from Middle East, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan,’ he further added.ACCA launched the regional advocacy awards in 2017 to recognise members who go above and beyond in expressing public support for the accountancy profession, embodying ACCA’s values. These advocates are also members who deliver public value, display ethical professionalism and inspire others to follow in their footsteps.

The full list of ACCA Regional Advocate Award winners for 2019 are:

ACCA MESA Regional Advocate of the Year 2019: Maaz Masood Ansari from Pakistan
ACCA Emerging Markets Regional Advocate of the Year 2019: Rajeev Giri from India
ACCA ASEAN ANZ Regional Advocate of the Year 2019: Mariam Riza from Australia
ACCA Europe and Americas Regional Advocate of the Year 2019: Eilis Quinlan from Ireland

ACCA Africa Regional Advocate of the Year 2019: Victoria Abiola Ajayi from Nigeria

ACCA Greater China Regional Advocate of the Year 2019: Jennifer Tan from Hong Kong SAR.

In addition to their professional excellence and globally in-demand expertise, ACCA members are particularly focused on delivering public value in Pakistan. They are currently involved in numerous free-of-cost, public value projects such as promoting financial literacy among micro entrepreneurs, and helping small businesses with their scalability and sustainability.



Microsoft to offer free remote working solution in wake of COVID-19

Karachi(Cliff News)With COVID-19 continuing to impact people and countries around the world, teams everywhere are exploring remote work options. Microsoft has announced that it will avail itshub for teamwork in Office 365, Microsoft Teams, for free to the public to enable remote working.In a statement announcing the free service, Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365 said, “At Microsoft, our top concern is the wellbeing of our employees and supporting our customers in dealing with business impact during these challenging times. By making Teams available to as many people as possible, we hope that we can support public health and safety by making remote work even easier.”Teams (Part of Office 365) is a chat-based collaboration tool that provides global, remote, and dispersed teams with the ability to work together and share information via a common space.  With Microsoft Teams, users can utilize features like document collaboration, one-on-one chat, team chat, and more.Users can find out how to sign up for Microsoft Teams via Microsoft 365 blog post with further tips on usage of the product available on this blog ,including tips on working from home with Microsoft Teams.“Microsoft Teams is a part of Office 365. If your organization is licensed for Office 365, you already have it. If you are not licensed for Teams, you will be logged into the product and automatically receive a free license of Teams that is valid through January 2021. This includes video meetings for up to 250 participants and Live Events for up to 10,000, recording and screen sharing, along with chat and collaboration”, says Jared.The free Teams version will give users unlimited chat, built-in group and one-on-one audio or video calling, 10 GB of team file storage, and 2 GB of personal file storage per user. Users will also get real-time collaboration with the Office apps for web, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.In addition to the above, Microsoft has also worked on several scenarios for different sectors on ways to utilize Microsoft Teams for free, even for organizations that don’t have Office 365.

Hutchison Ports Pakistan wins “Port/Container Terminal of the Year 2020” Award

Award pic 2020
Karachi(Cliff News)Hutchison Ports Pakistan, the country’s leading container terminal operator, has been acknowledged as the ‘Port/Container Terminal of the Year – South Asia 2020’ Award. The ceremony was held in Dubai as part of the Global Port Forum Award 2020. The platform aims to recognise some of the most notable contributions across various sectors of the ports and shipping industry made by organisations around the world. H.E. Mr. Muhammad Sharaf, Assistant Foreign Minister for Economics and Trade of UAE, presented the award to Eric NG, Business Director – Middle East and Africa, Hutchison Ports. Senior professionals from the ports, trade and other relevant industries across the globe attended the event. The Global Ports Forum is an organisation that collaborates with port authorities across the globe to bring various stakeholders together with a vision to create robust shipping practices and streamline international trade. Hutchison Ports Pakistan has had the honour of receiving this award for the first time through its demonstration of continuous innovation and introduction of efficient cargo-handling mechanisms at the South Asia Ports Terminal, Karachi.Commenting on the development, Capt. Syed Rashid Jamil, General Manager & Head of Business Unit, Hutchison Ports Pakistan, highlighted that the organisation is committed to revolutionising the way trade is handled at Pakistan’s shipping terminals. “Karachi is an important shipping port connecting many landlocked states with the world through sea. Streamlining operations at this terminal is imperative because it makes up a significant chunk of the contribution to global transit of goods. This accolade is an acknowledgment of the innovative steps being undertaken by Hutchison Ports Pakistan including the introduction of state-of-the-art machinery, tools and techniques to create a hassle-free supply chain.”Hutchison Ports Pakistan recently became the first terminal in the country to acquire electrical remote-controlled semi-automatic rubber-tyred gantry cranes to facilitate loading and unloading of cargo at its phase 2 extension. The company has made some significant contributions to increase efficiency at the trading ports in Karachi.

About Hutchison Ports Pakistan:
Hutchison Ports Pakistan is situated at the estuary of the Keamari Groyne basin, providing the most convenient access to ships entering Karachi. The new facility is the closest Pakistan port to the shipping lanes in the Arabian Sea. Its prime location offers the shortest steaming time from the Fairway Buoy, and will bring real benefits to customers, relating to time, cost, reduction in risk of delays, and reduced carbon emissions.Hutchison Ports Pakistan is a member of Hutchison Ports, the port and related services division of CK Hutchison Holdings Limited (CK Hutchison). Hutchison Ports is the world’s leading port investor, developer and operator with a network of port operations in 52 ports spanning 27 countries throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, the Americas and Australasia. Over the years, Hutchison Ports has expanded into other logistics and transportation-related businesses, including cruise ship terminals, airport operations, distribution centers, rail services and ship repair facilities.

ToTok remains eager to cooperate with Apple and Google to get back in their app stores

ToTok Photo Release 2 - ToTok remains eager to cooperate with Apple and Google to get back in their app stores (Mar 11, 2020)
Karachi(Cliff News)“Led by a group of international entrepreneurs and engineers working in the UAE, ToTok is an independent commercial entity that remains fully committed to protecting our user privacy and security. All ToTok user data is strongly encrypted and all transmission channels are fully protected. ToTok uses the same privacy and security technologies as some of the world’s leading messaging apps, including WhatsApp, Telegram, and Facebook Messenger. In fact, ToTok asks its users for access to less of their data than WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal”. This official statement was issued by ToTok today.ToTok was built to make it easier for people to communicate and connect with their friends, colleagues, and families around the world. Despite the misleading and outright false accusations carried in certain media outlets recently, ToTok has seen an outpouring of support and trust fromtens of millions of users, including more than 20 million who continue to use the app regularly.The message to our users and everyone around the world is, “ToTok is still going strong”, the statement added.While we disagreed with the removal of ToTok from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, we have implemented every specific change requested by both Apple and Google. We remain eager to cooperate with the two companies to get ToTok back in the app stores for good.Our company has sought and continues to seek a dialogue with Apple and Google by calling, emailing, and reaching out on social media, inviting the two companies to visit the ToTok office in Abu Dhabi. Regrettably, there has been no return communications from Apple since January 7, 2020 and from Google since February 15, 2020.The statement further added that “the time to resume dialogue and cooperation is now. As the global community battles the widespread outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), schools, universities, and offices around the world are closing to help contain the virus. Teleworking and remote learning have suddenly become the norm in many parts of the world. As an app with superior audio and video capabilities, ToTok calls on Google and Apple to work with us to make it easier, not harder, for people around the world to communicate.”We would also like to assure our users, and the global community, that our app is secure, safe to use, and remains free for everyone. Until ToTok is back on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, the app remains available for download to Android users on ToTok’s official website (, through the Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, Vivo app stores, or via popular third-party stores such as Apkpure, UpToDown, Aptoide, GetJar, Softonic.

About ToTok:

ToTok was launched in 2019 by a group of international entrepreneurs with the ambition to make it easier for people to communicate and connect with their friends, colleagues, and families around the world. Providing a free service with superior user experience, it quickly became one of the fastest-growing apps in the world, and is used today by tens of millions of people.

Empowering social entrepreneurs to achieve more using technology

Microsoft Photo Release - Empowering social entrepreneurs to achieve more using technology (Mar 03, 2020)
Islamabad(Cliff News)Microsoft  through its Microsoft for Startups initiative, has announced the launch of its Global Social Entrepreneurship programme. Around the world, startups are creating new businesses, built around powerful technologies and designed to make the world a better place. Innovators and entrepreneurs are finding new ways to harness technology to drive purpose-led social enterprises that measure success not just by the profits they generate, but by the good they do. Microsoft is deeply inspired by the commitment of these social entrepreneurs, who are focusing their passion for positive change on improving human health and the environment, advancing social and economic equity, and much more.

But these are huge, complicated problems and far too large for any single organisation to hope to solve alone. So to empower social entrepreneurs, Microsoft is launching a new Global Social Entrepreneurship programme to offer qualified startups access to technology, skills, customers and grants. The Global Social Entrepreneurship programme has benefits aimed specifically at elevating startups addressing an important social and/or environmental challenge through their products, services or operations.“Solving global social and environmental challenges requires synergy of the right technology, partners, conducive environment and technology. When startups work together with investors, enterprises, governments, non-profits and communities, we are able to unlock new potentials,” said Microsoft4Afrika Director AmroteAbdella.This global initiative is designed to help social enterprise startups build and scale their companies to do good globally. Microsoftbelieves in providing the foundational building blocks to help social entrepreneurs create companies that can achieve worldwide impact. Social enterprises that become part of the Global Social Entrepreneurship programme will receive access to free Microsoft cloud technologies, including up to $120,000 in Azure credits, along with technical support and guidance.A dedicated programme manager will help Global Social Entrepreneurship startups market and sell solutions and connect to large commercial organisations and nongovernmental organisations that are potential customers. Participants focused on sustainability, accessibility, and skills and employability will also be eligible for grants. Furthermore, the social enterprises that join the Global Social Entrepreneurship programme will be part of a worldwide community of like-minded innovators who come together to share ideas, foster connections and celebrate success.The programmeis available in 140 countries and will actively seek to support underrepresented founders with diverse perspectives and backgrounds. Founded by two female Pakistani doctors Dr Iffat Zafar and Dr Sara SaeedKhurram, SehatKahani is empowering female doctors and digitising healthcare in Pakistan. An e-health startup, the company aims to democratise access to quality and affordable health care using cost-effective ICT enabled solutions through a network of qualified home-based female doctors.The services integrate health with technology to create virtual solutions that provide access to health for all while making use of the untapped female health resources of Pakistan. Microsoft through the 4Afrika initiative has supported SehatKahani with go-to-market strategy and provided advisory roles for strategies on scaling up and growing their business. This has also facilitated the design of a digital health solution including a mobile app and a web platform to diagnose and treat a broad range of diseases virtually.“We are working towards a future where healthcare is available to all irrespective of their gender, race, ethnicity or social class using technology as an equaliser for all, and our partnership with Microsoft has been a game-changer in our journey,” says Dr Sara Saeed Khurram.Social impact startups from around the world are welcome to apply. The criteria to qualify for the programme includes a business metric that measures impact on an important social or environmental challenge; an established product or service that will benefit from access to enterprise customers; and a commitment to the ethical and responsible use of AI.Qualified startups will be eligible for grants in the areas of sustainability, accessibility, skills and employability.Through Global Social Entrepreneurship, Microsoft looks forward to working in close partnership with social enterprises from around the world.