Qatar-Education City

Hassnain Javed


After a five years long gap I got the opportunity to spend some time in Qatar. At my surprise most of the things have been changed and there are positive developments and prospects all around. It is clearly visible that Qatar has started investing a large portion of its hydrocarbon revenues in human capital. The state has began targeting its education sector for reform over a decade ago, recognizing that its development would be key to diversifying the economy and meeting the objectives mapped out in the long-term strategy, known as the Qatar National Vision 2030.

A couple of years back, H.H. Emir Tamim container Hamad Al Thani endorsed a record spending plan of $62 billion expanding the designation of assets for education by 7.3% as contrasted with the previous year. As indicated by The Word Bank, this is one of the most elevated allotments in the MENA locale. Qatar’s open consumptions on education contribute to 3.3% of its GDP and this increment will be incompletely dispensed for extension of Qatar Foundation and Qatar University offices. Assets will likewise go towards building 85 new schools and to cover the costs of 29 which are right now under development. The principle objective of the Government of Qatar (GOQ) is to put resources into balanced and drew in residents arranged to help the country sooner rather than later.

The private division is likewise assuming an inexorably vital part in giving education services, especially at the essential and auxiliary levels, with private schools catering the most part to the ostracize populace and an expanding number of Qatari nationals.

By law, the Government of Qatar gives free education at the primary and secondary level. The Higher Education Institute (HEI) working under the Supreme Education Council, grants skilled youthful Qatari students full grants for undergrads and graduate projects in colleges around the globe. It is upon the discretion of the students who may choose from a rundown of 346 American colleges.

An aggregate of 1,420 Qataris considered in the United States amid the 2016-2017 school year. This is an extensive number for a populace just the measure of 2.1 million where expats constitute well more than 80%.

The choices are not just restricted to colleges abroad. Qatar Foundation (QF) is a noteworthy vehicle for education with its lead venture, a 2,500 section of land grounds known as “Education City,” that is home to the accompanying six American Universities which includes Weill-Cornell Medical College (medicine);Carnegie Mellon University (computer science, business);Georgetown School of Foreign Service (political science and international affairs);Virginia Commonwealth University (design); Texas A&M University (engineering) and Northwestern University (journalism).

Moreover, QF has implemented the Academic Bridge Program (ABP) in Education City which prepares Qatari high school graduates for universities in Qatar or abroad. Students receive training for the IELTS, TOEFL, SAT and ACT. In addition, QF launched its own scholarship program supported by local companies. The program focuses on long-term employment needs by sponsoring trainees to study in Qatar and overseas, in countries like the United States, UK, France, Germany and Australia.

As per most recent accessible report from Qatar Statistics Authority, there were almost twice the same number of female students selected in colleges in Qatar as compared to males, and about 66% of all graduates were ladies. While expat and Qatari females are still more inclined to select in and graduate with college degrees here, their male partners still outflank them with regards to achievement in business. With regards to facilitating their instruction, female Qatari understudies were significantly more prone to stay in Qatar than to accept up abroad open doors, reflecting national traditions and customs.

A total of 370 university students were awarded international scholarships in 2011-12 – with 80% of these (295) going to male students and just 20% (75) taken up by female students. Management and economics was the most popular field of study for those international scholarship students, with 183 of them choosing it for further study. This was followed by arts and science (82 students) and engineering for 67 students.

Qatar is working to develop an appropriate environment for its nationals, to acquire necessary skills applicable to key sectors of the economy. In this regard, the GOQ launched a “Qatarization strategy” designed to increase the number of Qatari nationals in all joint venture industries and government departments to assume important positions formerly occupied by expatriates. Despite the many educational options, the sector is striving to keep up with increasing market demand. The arrival of foreign professionals with their families, in an effort to meet the deadlines of projects set by the National Vision 2030 and the World Cup 2022, add significant pressure to the education system. The population has more than doubled since 2004 and more institutions are needed to cope with growing demand. The Government is conscious of the situation and the Supreme Education Council is making a concerted effort to promote the establishment of top international institutions.


In order to conclude, education is considered to be the backbone of any nation to develop. Qatar has rightly focused and implemented the strategies for its improvement as it will help create alliance for its population at large with enterprises and global world. I am hopeful that someday Pakistan understands the real worth of spending in education sector especially creating more avenues for women education development. As a good educated woman can help in shaping better children and a prosperous society.

Belarus- A New Trade Craze

Hassnain Javed


Global economic philanthropy is a unique case. Whenever, Chinese community undertakes a foreign investment project, it has a multiplier effect on the economy at large and boosts the domestic revenue at a broader horizon. There are three channels through which local revenue accelerates. Firstly, revenues increase by the higher profit turnover of the domestic government’s own enterprises. Secondly, international trade and projects aids private companies to get registered in the local periphery which translates in increased production and simultaneously government tax revenue collection. Thirdly, foreign projects at some extent contribute in job creation if not permanently, then at least temporary, which overall improves the societal well-being. Besides the stated benefits for the Chinese national government, the local entrepreneurs involved are main drives to turn these projects into reality and serve as instruments for individual promotion.

Now, taking up the case of China-Belarus new trade projects it is obvious that any country that takes the initiative to invest and trade has potential benefits attached as it is believed to be no free lunches. First of all, investment in Belarus; Chinese are pursuing their own interests which are certainly interests vested by government officials. In a situation where, economic irrationality is presented by the rationality of the individual decision makers, career perspectives for government officials in China are most suited for those providing large budget surpluses. Therefore, Chinese investment in Belarus is not purely confined by maximization of Chinese economy in general. It can even be opposite to this objective as system is designed in a way that maximizes the local GDP and fiscal revenues which justifies economic rationality.

Chinese economy is more prone towards short-term results as the local officials have to report about the current updates to the central government rather than the long-term materialization. Thus, quantifiable results supersede the overall progress. The primary emphasis is placed on statistical numbers and indicators that help in generating a competitive environment among the local governments. There is famous Chinese saying that “numbers produce officials and officials produce numbers”. It clearly defines the ideological mechanism of the vicious circle that Belarusians aim to renounce with the Belavezha Accords.

Along with the potential gains and direct benefits from foreign investment there come wider opportunities for bribes and kickbacks. It is believed any type of investment that promotes and contributes within the governmental and part hierarchy translates in creation of personal wealth through corruption mechanisms.

Now, it is important to understand the phenomena behind the investment redirection by China. Why China is interested in investing in Central and East European countries. There is a major problem that China is facing that is at home there is problem of overinvesting in its own country. This is considered to be unavoidable problem because the performance of local officials is measured by the locality’s GDP growth. There is list of examples from China where airports, railroads and highways are only built for the sake of construction process and to increase localities GDP in a short run. For instance, the construction of Fuyang city airport project investment amounted to 320 million yuan. But, after being operational for a year it has to be closed down due to low air traffic. This example explains that Chinese are more interested in construction process rather than practical use of the final facilities. Once the project is completed Chinese are facing maintenance problems. Therefore, Chinese local governments save their money constructing outside China using the export credits. Thus, cost of maintenance for final facility is transferred to another country. Likewise, local governments gain some advantages from increasing production and providing jobs for people in localities. It will translate in short-term payoffs.

Based on the above analysis it provides evidence that what happens in China and the reason behind Chinese support with their export credit to different countries. In crux China is supersaturated with the investment projects within the country therefore benefits from continuing realization of the same projects abroad. Thus, Chinese projects in Belarus are with similar project intentions in corresponding industries. China has wide range of unnecessary construction of highways but Belarus in turn is far from the problem of having unnecessary expressways. Therefore, improvement of the infrastructural improvement is necessity and one of the top priorities. More than half of the 15,800 kilometers of Belarusian national highways, which stretch to about 9,000 kilometers, need at least a surface treatment therefore China redirected more than 322 US million dollars to Belarus. Moreover, Chinese and Belarusian parties also signed a 102 million US dollars loan for Intelligent Transport System in Minsk, which involves improvement projects on M-2 highway that leads to Minsk-National Airport and M-9 highway, which is a ring road around the capital.

In order to conclude, there are important lessons to be learnt from Chinese strategies and the way to promote their domestic industry even through export-credit. Every developing economy needs to realize their export potentials and best exploitation of their resources. Without giving boost to domestic industry in short-term it is impossible to meet with long term objectives. This analysis provides a wide picture that Belarusian trade investment by foreigners is unlikely to reap fruitful benefits to its economy as the possibility for them to benefit to the same extent as the Chinese officials is limited by the nature of Chinese loans used to fund the projects. China is smart in establishing trade links as it provides Belarusians with loans, conditioned upon the purchase of goods and services from the businesses and local state-owned enterprises in China.

Social Credit System

Hassnain Javed


Another brand new phenomenon that is being introduced by yet again Chinese is “social credit system”. Chinese authorities claim that they have banned more than 7 million people who were considered to be “untrustworthy” from boarding flights and approximately 3 million others were deemed so from riding on high-speed rail trains. This provides evidence that Chinese authorities are getting more pro-active and use advanced technologies to have a complete crack-down on crime. To combat with this approach various pilot projects have already been launched nationwide in China.

The National Development Reform Commission reports on untrustworthy records offer evidence that China could engineer society if it combines technology with its credit system. The capital city of China, Beijing is striving to generate and officially operationalize a Social Credit System (SCS) by 2020. Now, what pertains in SCS is a national system designed in such a way to value, acknowledge, identify and engineer better individual behavior by generation of the scores for 1.4 billion citizens. This system will award the trustworthy and likewise punish the disobedient.

The “social credit system,” was first announced in 2014 which aims to strengthen the idea that “keeping trust is glorious and breaking trust is disgraceful,” according to a government document. The program is due to be fully operational by 2020, but is being piloted for millions of people already. The scheme is believed to be obligatory. Currently, the system is piecemeal and not fully executed some are run by city councils, others are scored by private tech platforms which hold personal data.

It is more similar to private credit scores, a person’s social score can also move up and down depending on their behavior. The exact methodology is still a secret and yet not be found by others but examples of breaches include bad driving, smoking in non-smoking zones, buying too many video games and posting fake news online.

Some of the operational execution of this scheme is observed in China as it has already started punishing people by restricting their travel. Approximately, 9 million people with low scores have been blocked from buying tickets for domestic flights, Channel News Asia reported in March, citing official statistics. Moreover, they can also compress down on luxury options because the recent statistics report that somewhat three million people are barred from getting business-class train tickets.

Actually, the main ideology behind this system is that it will punish bad passengers specifically. Some of the common observed potential misdeeds include trying to ride with no ticket, loitering in front of boarding gates, or smoking in no-smoking areas. According to Foreign Policy, credit systems monitor whether people pay bills on time, much like financial credit trackers but also ascribe a moral dimension. Other proposed punishable offences include spending too long playing video games, wasting money on playful purchases and posting on social media. In addition, spreading fake news, specifically about terrorist attacks or airport security, will also be deemed as one of the punishable offences.

For instance Beijing newspaper reported that 17 people who refused to carry out military service last year were barred from enrolling in higher education, applying for high school, or continuing their studies. Besides this, citizens with very low social credit would also be banned from enrolling their children at high-paying private schools. It’s not clear whether this particular policy has been put into action yet officially.

Moreover, “Trust-breaking” folks would also be disqualified from doing management jobs in state-owned firms and big banks. Some crimes, like fraud and embezzlement, would also have a big effect on social credit system. Likewise, individuals who refused military service were also banned from some holidays and hotels with implication that vacation plans are fair game too.

On the flip side the regime rewards people here as well as punishes them. It is reported by Chinese national that good scores aids in speeding up travel applications to places like Europe. An anonymous woman in Beijing also told the BBC in 2015 that she was able to book a hotel without having to pay cash deposit because she had a good score.

Furthermore, another feature on SCS is Naming and shaming method available. In year 2016 it encourages companies to consult the blacklist before hiring people or giving them contracts. However, people will be notified by the courts before they are added to the list, and are allowed to appeal against the decision within ten days of receiving the notification. Although it’s not clear when the list will start to be implemented but it’s adverse along with fruitful implications are being observed.

Beside the weirdness of the system the Human Rights Watch referred it as “chilling,” while Botsman called it “a futuristic vision of Big Brother out of control” and some citizens say it’s making them better people already. In order to conclude, Pakistan is also suffering from ever increasing crime rates, cybercrimes, unfair punishments and unlawful acts. To keep a check and to bring sense of responsibility among the citizens of Pakistan we have to launch such system from which society at large benefit. Pakistan has to aware its citizens that the government control is intact and if there is breaking of rules they will cause them punishments and if they religiously follow the rules it will shape Pakistan as harmonious and peaceful society.

Belt and Road Cross Border Cooperation

Hassnain Javed


United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) has given 17 sustainability development goals (SDGs) whereas focusing primarily on goal 9 that industry, innovation and infrastructure which helps in promoting trade, standards, quality and investment. This idea further leads to inclusive and sustainable industrial development which encapsulates shared prosperity, economic competitiveness and safeguarding the environment. Shared prosperity promotes the idea of inclusive growth with equal opportunities for all people, via partnerships with all relevant stakeholders. In contrast, economic competitiveness supports the industrial growth, increased trade and technological progress, via modern industrial policies. Now, to remain sustainable which is important for future survival safeguarding the environment is of utmost need. Environmentally sustainable growth via cleaner industrial technologies and production methods is new way to address the issue.

By having industry, innovation and infrastructure there will be trade and development. Now, trade promotes economic growth, alleviates poverty and help countries reach their development goals. In addition, trade facilitation including implementation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) trade facilitation agreement as well as tackling other policy and infrastructure barriers to goods and services trade are critical to growth and poverty reduction. But, if there is proper interconnection being developed by industrial clusters then innovation trade patterns could be channelised and emerging and developing economies like Pakistan can greatly benefit from it.

Now, to have industry innovation and infrastructure there is need of investment as well. Investment needs to be scaled up significantly in the coming years to contribute to the 2030 agenda. Moreover, SDGs explicitly call for quality and responsible investment to optimise contribution to economic development. Although several challenges persist in attracting inclusive and sustainable investment thus private investment act as a complement to public investment which is yet again a powerful development enabler for developing economies.

UNIDO has applied unique approach to address the goal which pertains to quality infrastructure to conform the investment and technology promotion offices to compete with innovation through e-commerce connection and support the idea of cross-border cooperation. Quality infrastructure refers to standards and quality for market access it requires consumer’s awareness and capacity building, enterprises upgrading and value chain development, quality infrastructure services through quality through quality promotion, conformity assessment, accreditation, mutual recognition and calibration verification tools. Moreover, quality infrastructure is also required at end of institutions for standardisation and accreditation. Likewise, regulatory framework and quality policy is essential at end of governance. If this is executed it will help in building stronger confidence for cross border trade and cooperation

Trade facilitation is also needed for improved cross-border trade what is needed are better quality products, which have been tested, inspected and certified before cross bordering to build the strong quality trade confidence. The key to success is creation of demand-driven quality infrastructure for sustainability. Demand refers to quality culture and supply is quality infrastructure there amalgamation equates the sustainability and generation of cross border trade.

Besides this, there can be different types of investment to support the goal it includes traditional investment, quality investment and impact investment. Traditional investment generates financial return which incorporates both direct and indirect investment. Quality investment as explained earlier requires strategically direct investments towards target areas with high growth potential and creating virtuous linkages with the local industry. The impact investment generates social and environmental impact alongside a financial return, can also be philanthropic in nature not aiming at financial return is very common tool by developed world to be applied in developing economies. It all leads to blend of social and financial value.

Impact investment addresses the most pressing challenges for both basic services and important sectors. It accounts for 1% of FDI flows (USD 1.53 trillion) which is growing around 20% yearly. It further helps in finding new types of investors like banks, pension funds, financial advisors, government and development finance institution and individual investors that turn to impact investment which are financially sound and can be helpful in contributing and attaining to SDGs. There are ten investment and technology promotion offices worldwide promoting two-way investment for achieving the SDGs.

The 4th industrial revolution commonly referred to as Industry 4.0 is changing the trade and investments patterns worldwide. In 18th century there was mechanisation which produced steam and water power later in 19th century there was mass production and electrification conveyor. In 20th century there was automation and today there is game changer by cyber physical systems and creation of idea internet of things. This transition explained how economies of scope translated into economies of scale and transformation towards individual production. It further strengthens that E-commerce as a driver for trade. E-commerce is playing an increasingly important role in promoting trade growth, industry transformation and job creation, as well as enabling developing countries and SMEs to better participate in and benefit from global value chains. E-commerce also brings overall strategic opportunities for the economic and social development for BRICs countries and evolving need for related policy discussions which aim at reducing trade costs in cross border e-commerce. Therefore, e-commerce unleashes opportunities for SMEs to participate in international trade and facilities SMEs to access information for cross-border investment.

UNIDO has taken several steps for sustainable development it includes Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development and Sustainable Development Goals. BRI supports the regional development initiative that promotes win-win cooperation, common development, prosperity, peace and cooperation, openness, inclusiveness and mutual understanding. In 2016, the UN General Assembly showed its support for BRI by recognising its importance as a vehicle for regional cooperation, in particular its role in facilitating regional connectivity, trade and transit. In addition, UNIDO’s inclusive and sustainable industrial development mandate promotes shared prosperity, economic competitiveness and environment sustainability. Moreover, SDGs developing quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure to support economic development and human well-being it all leads to driving economic transformation.

Programme for Country Partnership (PCP), is a new initiative which optimise investment, boosting trade and enhancing market access with main objectives to accelerate the momentum of industrialisation, create more development impact and assert the relevance of UNIDO as an influential agent of change for industrialisation. This program is led by the host government at the highest political level. The PCP leverages large-scale public and private investment for industrial development, infrastructure and innovation by targeting prioritised sectors and areas aligned with the national industrialisation strategy. The PCP creates synergy with partner interventions like UN agencies development partners, financial institutions and the business sector. PCP impact and partnerships includes UNIDO technical cooperation stand-alone and expanding bi-lateral trade by maximising impact through mobilising investment.

In order to conclude, Pakistan should focus on UNIDO’s role within the PCP. As PCP facilitates the conveying of partners and the overall coordination which designs and develops a holistic program aimed at up-scaling development results and building synergies with partner interventions in the country which provides normative, policy and advisory services to the government on industry-related issues aim at delivering integration and multi-disciplinary technical assistance. Therefore, supports the government in mobilising large-scale industrial investments from public and private partners.

UNIDO Day 2018

Hassnain Javed


On April 20th, 2018 UNIDO Day 2018: Belt and Road Cross-Border Cooperation Forum was held in Shanghai, China. I was privileged to be invited by President Yan Xiaohong (Jiangsu University, China) and Dr Cui Yong (Deputy Secretary General, One Belt One Road College, Jiangsu University, China) in this event to represent the case of China- Pakistan future collaboration. Upon an exclusive discussion with H.E.LI Yong, Director-General (DG) UNIDO I was reassured that Pakistan shares a long history of collaborative projects with UNIDO but most of the projects didn’t reap the fruitful outcomes which is the major reason for resistance in future collaboration. Moreover, the DG also narrates that two years back when he tried to figure out why Pakistan is lagging behind in comparison to other UNIDO partner countries the answer received by our Ex-Prime Minister was quite disturbing because as usual our government put the entire burden of guilt to previous establishments. The DG was of the opinion that Pakistan can itself become self-sufficient if it focuses on three aspects. Firstly, it needs to own things and stop blaming what others had done in past. Secondly, energy is important driver for economic development therefore it is significant for Pakistan to pay special attention in this area. Thirdly, Pakistan needs to channelise export of best fruits and vegetables produced in Pakistan which he believes are a stepping stone for Pakistan to become self-sufficient and getting out of poverty trap.

After the exclusive discussion there was formal opening of UNIDO 2018. UNIDO has been committed to achieve inclusive globalisation and environmental sustainability in industry development, realise the potential of industrial contribution, reach the prosperity of mankind through cooperation, and build a community for common destiny for mankind. In China, UNIDO will host UNIDO day annually during China (Shanghai), International Technology Fair. It will primarily focus on themes of trade technology and global sustainable development; the activities include high-level international forums, dialogues and visits, with the objective of catalysing global industry innovation, the economic transformation and industrial upgrading.

This year, the UNIDO Day has taken the opportunity of “Belt & Road” initiative and hold three thematic events: Belt and Road Cross-Border Cooperation Forum, “Bridge for Cities” Roadshow and the UNIDO Special Exhibition Stand. The events were aimed to explore the cross-border cooperation and investment opportunities with focus on the Smart City, Industry 4.0, and Circular Economy for the common prosperity of mankind. Moreover, it also emphasised on regional economic and trade exchange to promote “Belt and Road” cross-border cooperation through global technology complementation to achieve industry upgrading and environmental sustainable development. The main agenda highlighted is setting and harmonising fiscal, monetary and industrial policies and in supporting sound economic growth in emerging and developing economies.

It was mentioned that recently, UNIDO have signed a joint Declaration on a Programme for Country Partnership (PCP) for 2018-2023 with Cambodia. This makes Cambodia the first country in Asia to pilot the PCP initiative. This initiative will target three key areas which includes the development of sustainable tourism, the development of competitive agro-industry and creative industry value chains and industrial diversification in specific through the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs). Now, in reality Pakistan is also in dire need of such initiatives as discussed above it covers all those areas which requires special attention. Undoubtedly, if a proper channel is adopted by our government and its concerned Ministries and already executed projects like China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Pakistan can become a dreamland. Moreover, the PCP will be supported by number of interventions on cross-cutting issues which includes interventions in the following areas: industrial policy and business environment; skills development; quality infrastructure, innovation and technology transfer; energy access and efficiency; resource efficiency and cleaner production and environmental management.

If, Cambodia can be fortunate enough to become part of this initiative then why not Pakistan. Pakistan needs to target it then it could serve as a new platform for synchronizing development efforts and in specific for optimal resource mobilisation and effective Pakistan’s Industrial Development policy.

Likewise, DG UNIDO also mentioned about joining forces with Thailand to develop the Eastern Economic Corridor by lending assistance in upgrading and improving industries in the area. They have the agenda to promote sustainable industry in countries undergoing an economic transition. The goal of the strategy is to evolve the Thai economy from reliance on assembly line manufacturing for multinationals to one driven by home-grown innovation, creativity, research and development, high technologies and green technologies.

Now, once again it is a great idea to be replicated in Pakistan. We need to showcase our case at right platform and in proper way. I am of opinion great emphasis should be placed toward Pakistan financial sector reforms which prompt major financial institutions to establish corporate governance to deal with toxic assets, strengthen risk management and importance to fiscal and financial measures in favor of agricultural development and SMEs as it acts as the cornerstones for creating economic opportunities, reducing poverty and promoting gender equality.

Overall conclusion, of the UNIDO Day 2018 is to have partnerships that are essential for bringing industry 4.0 technologies to cities to transform them into smart cities. There are countless opportunities available to make cities smarter through industry 4.0 technologies, but the ultimate goal should always be to improve the quality of life for people. There is the potential for developing countries to leapfrog to higher levels of development through the use of technology. Lastly, smart cities will be pivotal in achieving the 2030 agenda which focus on inclusive sustainable industrial development through the nexus of industry, infrastructure and innovation in cities.


Ant Forest and Low-carbon lifestyles

Hassnain Javed


There is unique science of sustainability and its interlinked organs. It cannot be some sort of moral sacrifice or either the political dilemma or a philanthropical cause. Indeed it has to be a design challenge which currently our nation is undergoing. In the prevalent situation I believe we need to address this challenge by benchmarking the successful sustainable projects being executed and have positive socioeconomic impacts.

Thus, I conducted a case analysis inspired by the Chinese government’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; Hanghou-based financial technology player Ant Financial Services Group introduced an innovative program called ‘Ant Forest’ on Alipay in August 2016.

Combining elements of the Internet, finance, and low-carbon lifestyles in a video game format, Ant Forest encourages users to take part in low-carbon activities like walking, paying for bills online, and taking public transport, to create virtual ‘green energy’. By accumulating this green energy, users can grow virtual trees. These online trees then get planted in real life in the desert through the support of Ant Financial and its partners.

This serves the dual purpose of promoting greener habits while protecting the environment. Bai Xue, senior researcher with Ant Financial, says the scheme is very popular with online users. “Currently, 230 million people are actively participating in Ant Forest on their mobile phones. Technology, which can be used to mobilize the public, makes public welfare activities easier. If everyone is involved, we can easily popularize a low- carbon lifestyle.”

How exactly does Ant Forest turn virtual trees into real ones? Ant Financial cooperates with environmental NGOs like the Society of Entrepreneurs and Ecology (SEE), and the China Green Foundation. We’ll (continue to) use technology to do more.’ This environmentally-friendly scheme has also inspired many mobile payment users, 60% of whom are under 20 years of age, to be healthier and conscious of their carbon footprint. A user reports, “I used to weigh 140 kilograms. Because I’ve been walking every day, I now weigh 100 kilograms. I’ve planted four trees with all the energy I gathered in my online Ant Forest account. Every time felt like giving up, the idea of planting a tree pushed me forward.”

Within China, Ant Forest has been responsible for planting a total of 10.25 million trees, which has directly reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 1.22 million tons. Ant Financial’s environmentally-friendly scheme is also in line with Chinese agricultural and forestry officials, who plan on promoting tree-planting and forest cover in the five-year- period starting from 2016. According to a UN report, China is also on track to increase forest coverage up to 23% of total land area within the next three years.

Having a glance at idea of Ant Forest, let’s get into more detail how this was germinated. In actual the above discussed sustainable project is a byproduct of the business, operations which contribute to society with an inclusive approach to financial services, giving anyone, anywhere, equal opportunities for financial investment i.e. Ant Financial.

In a survey conducted while designing a case analysis for Ant Financial I ask most people in China to name a location they associate with ‘finance’ and they may say ‘London’, ‘New York’, ‘Singapore’, ‘Hong Kong’, or ‘Shanghai’. All of these are modern cities with highly developed financial services industries. Historically in China, financial services have been readily available to wealthy urban residents, while poorer rural residents have difficulty in accessing these services. There is less motivation for banks and other financial institutions to offer services in rural areas.

The lack of a credit recording and scoring system means there is no way of calculating a how likely a person is to repay debts. ‘Pledging,’ a method of using existing assets to provide security on a loan, is also not an option in these areas. Both of these factors mean that financial institutions would need to take on a much higher risk if they provided loans to rural residents. Upon closer inspection Pakistan is also having the similar conditions in our rural areas.

Chinese addressed the above problem in highly technical, sustainable and feasible model. Alibaba Group launched its first financial product, payment app ‘Alipay,’ in 2004. Ten years later in 2014, Aipay’s parent company was rebranded as Ant Financial signaling a new era Of Alibaba financial services.

The name Ant’ was chosen to represent the combined strength of many working together. One of the most important aspects of Ant Financial’s platform is its open, shared credit system.

Ant Financial has developed this system through big data analysis, including monitoring of user behavior on Alipay and other Ant Financial products. Users are given access to different types of financial services Via Alipay depending on how good their credit score is.

Unlike traditional credit-scoring systems which else have a limited amount of data from a limited number of financial institutions. Ant Financial’s system makes it possible to score all users. Regardless Of where they are located and how many traditional financial services they have used in the past.

From 2014 to 2017, Ant Financial had provided loans, insurance and payment services to 160 million crop farmers and nearly 1.8 million livestock farmers. In addition to farmers, it also provided services to individual business owners and SMEs in rural areas. This impressed World Bank President Kim Yong, who commented: “It’s now easier for Chinese farmers to buy insurance than it is for me to do so in the United States.”

In addition to developing a financial services system that is more inclusive Ant Financial is actively supporting rural development in other ways. It provides loans as part of the ‘Graduate Hometown Development’ scheme, where university graduates interested in contributing to the development of their hometown can apply for a loan to help them do so. Only eight months after launching its e-banking service. Ant Financial had provided 400 million loans to 14 thousand university graduates under the scheme. Of these loans have been distributed to graduates in national and provincial poverty-stricken areas.

Besides this, Ant Financial has plans in the making to radically simplify financial services in other ways. For example, the company aims to reduce administrative banking costs for loans from 2,000 RMB to just 2 RMB by making the process fully automatic. Applicants spend three minutes filling in and submitting their loan application online, and Ant Financial’s system uses big data and Internet resources to process and transfer the loan into the applicant’s account within a single second.

In order to conclude, given the massive success of Ant Forest, Ant Financial is keen on rolling out a similar carbon-tracking scheme in other countries as well. I really suggest Pakistan to put forth such initiatives under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Moreover, all the above points streamline the similar initial conditions of Pakistan and China rural areas before the advent of such feasible idea thus its replication could also reap fruits for our economy.

The writer is a Master Trainer/Advisor at the Pakistan Industrial Technical Assistance Centre Lahore, under the Federal Ministry of Industries and Production, Islamabad.

Within China, Ant Forest has been responsible for planting a total of 10.25 million trees, which has directly reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 1.22 million tons.

Wakhan Corridor and CPEC

Hassnain Javed


The narrow strip of territory in northeastern Afghanistan that extends to China and separates Tajikistan from Pakistan this strip is about 350km (220 mi) long and 13-65 km (8.1-40.4 mi) wide. Yes this strip is known as Wakhan corridor which enjoys extreme strategic position. Between China, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan, inside the Pamir Knot, lies the Wakhan corridor. This strip of land sandwiched between the four countries was created as a buffer between the territories of British India and Tsarist Russia in the 19th century, which was then formally demarcated between the Kingdom of Afghanistan and the Chinese People’s Republic in November 1963. The Wakhan corridor has historically been an important transit path of the ancient Silk Road route.

Given the geography of the Pamir Mountains, building infrastructure in the Wakhan could be difficult and costly. However, there are many instances of projects that have been successfully completed in the similar and even more geographically complex terrains of the region. The Karakorum Mountains, into which the Karakorum Highway was built (using 1960s and 1970s technology, taking 20 years to complete), and the Pamir Mountains where the Wakhan corridor lies are in the same area with similar topography.

A nutshell comparison of these areas indicates that the feasibility of infrastructure in Wakhan is increasingly viable given the road and tunnel-building technologies available in China today. The cost of the 400 km Wakhan project would be trivial compared to the $794-million upgrade of the Karakorum Highway or the $4.2 billion for the 1,600 km China-Tibet railway that opened in 2006. If such mega projects could be built on the roof of the world way back in the late 1970s and early 2000s, there is no reason to perceive geographic complexity as a barrier to building connectivity via Wakhan.

What is currently missing is an initiative to open borders and collaborate. While geographical complexity has not been a barrier to the development of the infrastructure in Wakhan, security concerns and regional political play seem to be the major roadblocks on the way to the development of Wakhan.

Yet until today, there has not been a single project undertaken with trilateral cooperation. So how can the three neighbors initiate and increase their trilateral cooperation? The first goal should be to boost trilateral people-to-people exchanges.

The three governments need to address the physical and political obstacles hindering trilateral people-to-people and business-to-business relations. Between China and Afghanistan, there are physical barriers, especially the absence of direct infrastructure links (currently Sino-Afghan bilateral trade passes through a third country, like Iran or Pakistan). Some might argue that the tough physical terrain in Wakhan, Badakhshan, the part of Afghanistan bordering China, is a big hindrance for directly connecting the two countries. But if building the Karakorum Highway in Pakistan is possible, why not undertake such a project in the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan? Paving the way for direct road links between Afghanistan and China would enormously boost the bilateral trade.

Meanwhile, between Pakistan and Afghanistan there are political barriers, which then cause rising physical barriers through the closure of borders. These barriers have badly influenced bilateral trade and transit. For instance, according to Afghan statistics, the total volume of Afghanistan-Pakistan trade decreased from $1.573 billion in 2015-2016 to $1.482 billion in 2016-2017. Similarly, Afghan imports from Pakistan dropped from $1.346 billion to $1.199 billion during the same period. Overall, since 2010, Afghanistan-Pakistan bilateral trade had decreased from a peak of $2.5 billion.

All the three sides should freely encourage each other to point out their red lines. If these red lines or concerns are not logical, they should be discussed. Some red lines are not negotiable but others stem from miscommunication or misunderstanding rather than reality. It is here that China can play a very important role by persuading its two neighbors to effectively engage. China has every reason to do so, because the security situation of Afghanistan is also a headache for Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative and its heavy investments in CPEC. With China interested in mediating between Afghanistan and Pakistan, it has the potential to outperform previous attempts by Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Besides this, there are three main advantages of building infrastructure through Wakhan corridor. First, the inhabitants of the Pamir Knot — encompassing Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan, Wakhan District in Badakhshan province of Afghanistan, Kashgar in Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China, and Chitral in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of Pakistan — share a common history, culture, religion and geography.

People in this enclave have been isolated from wider civilisations for centuries. Moreover, the border areas among these four countries are widely underdeveloped and economically insecure. Their primary sources of livelihood have been livestock husbandry and, to some extent, agriculture. According to a 2008 report, the literacy rate in Wakhan district hardly reaches 5 per cent.

The foremost advantage of building infrastructure in this region would be to bring change in the life and livelihood of the local population. Their access to markets and cities would help them sell their products, get access to education and find alternative sources of income. Regional investment in infrastructure and trade would provide locals with reliable sources of employment, rejuvenating these people’s historical ties to the ancient Silk Road.

Second, connecting the bordering countries and facilitating economic integration through better infrastructure would lead to more stability and security in the region. Better customs controls and the deployment of border guards, as well as control of the illegal cross-border trafficking, would encourage legal exchange and cooperation.

Indirectly, the integration of the border areas would strengthen local development and lead to an increase in the economic well-being of the local population, which would lead to more secure and stabilised border regions.

Finally, linking the Wakhan corridor to the Karakorum Highway would provide the shortest route for China to reach its mega projects in Afghanistan, and for the Afghans to access the vast Chinese market. The north-south expansion of the corridor would help landlocked Tajikistan to get access to Pakistan’s ports, allowing the Pakistanis to reach the resource-rich Central Asian republics by traversing Afghanistan through the shortest possible route.

If built, the Wakhan corridor would be the least costly trade route between China, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan compared to the current alternatives. This should compel the four countries to transform this land buffer into a bridge between them.

Currently, CPEC benefits Pakistan and China, but it can be easily extended to include Afghanistan and Tajikistan. If the Wakhan route is connected to the CPEC, it would undoubtedly boost trade and transform the economic outlook for the entire region.

In my view, political bottlenecks and security fears should not hold back economic progress and regional prosperity. It would be in the best interest of the region as a whole to develop more projects like CPEC and Chabahar, with regional integration and economic cooperation in mind. These megaprojects, linked together in good faith, could reinforce and facilitate trade and transit in the region with the lowest possible costs and numerous benefits.

Special economic zones under CPEC

Hassnain Javed


Industrial revolution had initiated in the 18th century but the world had to wait till 1959 to witness the establishment of first modern SEZ in Shannon, Ireland. As of 2006, International Labour Organization’s (ILO) database reported 3,500 zones in 130 countries and today one can find more than 4300 SEZs around the globe and the number is increasing rapidly. The reason behind this growth is the substantial development that comes with the establishment and successful operation of a SEZ. There is no specific definition of a SEZ; some call it a place where foreign companies enjoy tax benefits, other know it as an area near port for export purpose while remaining consider it as a vehicle to attract FDI; all these descriptions are correct. Countries use SEZs as a tool for industrialization. A number of examples exist in the world from Asia to Latin America that illustrate how SEZs play a vital role in economic growth; however not all the SEZs get miracles like Shenzhen in China. Out of all the countries developing SEZs, China has been the most successful. China has gained immense progress through SEZ ventures. According to an estimate, SEZs, all over the world, have created approximately 66 million jobs out of which 30 million are exclusively located in China.

Special Economic Zones or SEZs are considered significant specifically for the industrial development of a country. Industrial development provides the firm standing on which any country can hope to reap long term economic benefits. At the same time it is important that the SEZs are based on the export oriented business/trade development. SEZs are the specific regions identified and demarcated with the sole aim of bolstering economic activity. The aim is achieved through offering various incentives to the foreign investors such as tax and duty exemptions. This idea is now being practiced all across the globe in various countries and is contributing greatly to their respective economic growth.

Pakistan today, under CPEC, has entered the Industrialization phase. Even though in the past, Pakistan was mindful of establishing these zones and tried to establish the SEZs but the attempts were not particularly successful back then. Nonetheless Pakistan does already have some successful industrial clusters and estates in Sialkot: surgical goods Cluster; Gujarat: ceramic/pottery industrial cluster; Faisalabad: readymade garments manufacturing cluster; Khyber PakhtunKhwa (KPK): marble Cluster; Hattar Industrial Estate (KPK): food and beverage, textile, crockery, chemical industry; and Gujranwala: tannery/leather industrial cluster. However this time along with the renewed conviction, Pakistan can rely on the vast personal and successful experience of China in the establishment of SEZs under the ambit of CPEC. China’s own SEZs which number almost around 1800, speaks volume of its sound success in this domain. Since 1980’s it has garnered enough skill, practice and knowledge of the requirements for setting up of these economic zones. Pakistan can also and must utilize this experience of China in ensuring the success of its prospective economic zones.

So far nine SEZs have been identified to be established soon. One each in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan and Islamabad, two in Sindh and one each in FATA, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Governing structure for these zones is provided n the SEZ Act 2012 and the Board of Investment (BoI) has established “CPEC-SEZ” Cell for facilitating stakeholders on the matters relating to CPEC and Special Economic Zones. Not only can Pakistan learn greatly from China but should also focus on cultivating domestic capacity in the areas of vocational education, agriculture, water management, automobile technology, electrical appliances, and disaster management etc.

Pakistan is eventually set to embrace around 37 SEZs under CPEC. Four SEZ sites were identified in Punjab. Punjab-China Economic Zone and Quaid-i-Azam Apparel Park SEZ are in Sheikhupura while M-3 Industrial City and Value Addition City are in Faisalabad. In Balochistan, nine places were identified for SEZs: Bostan Industrial Zone, Dasht Industrial Zone, Turbat Industrial Zone, Industrial Zone at the Junction of Qilla Saifullah, Zhoband Loralai, Gwadar Industrial Estate, Lasbela Industrial Estate, Dera Murad Jamali Industrial and Trading Estate and Winder Industrial and Trading Estate. In Sindh, four sites were identified for SEZs. These are China Special Economic Zone at Dhabeji in Thatta, China Industrial Zone near Karachi, Textile City and Marble City. Two of these projects were considered in Thatta: China Special Economic Zone, Dhabeji (priority) and Keti Bandar. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government requested the establishment of SEZs in 17 places under the CPEC. These include economic zone at Karak, Nowshera, Bannu, Jalozai, Rashakai, Risalpur, Chitral, Buner, Swat, Batagram, Jahangir, Mansehra and Gadoon Amazai. Others include Hattar Phase VII Industrial Zone, Ghazi Economic Zone and Gomal Economic Zone in Dera Ismail Khan. Moqpondass SEZ will be established in Gilgit-Baltistan. In Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Bhimber Industrial Zone will be the priority project while Muzaffarabad SEZ will be the alternative. In Fata, the only SEZ will be Mohmand Marble City. ICT Model Industrial Zone will be established in Islamabad while an industrial park will be developed on Pakistan Steel Mills’ land in Port Qasim near Karachi.

It’s a fact that at the moment Pakistan doesn’t have a manpower proficient enough to operate Chinese technological tools and machineries. Also there is not yet much information available about the nature of labour that will be employed in this project. It is expected that China can provide rigorous training to the local Pakistani workforce and make them skilled enough to use the advanced technology. Not only will it generate domestic employment opportunities but will directly contribute to the sustainable development of Pakistan, which of course is one of the eventual goals of the CPEC. Both China and Pakistan need to work towards bringing more transparency and clarity in this regard. The final framework should be based on equivalent and balanced opportunities for all the stakeholders.

Last but not the least, for these SEZs to deliver successfully it is important to have a secure foreign investment. For that purpose not only certain economic incentives are to be offered but the provision of basic utilities such as gas, water, electricity are to be ensured too. In this regard the federal governments have already agreed to supply these amenities to the economic zones. Additionally the workable environment should be made available where the security concerns should be at the minimum. The success of economic zones also depends on the socio-economic conditions of adjacent areas. In case of Pakistan, the local employment opportunities and capacity building should be the main focus that should be achieved with the mutual consultation and understanding between both China and Pakistan.

Moreover, Industrial cooperation under CPEC will help us to attract those labour intensive industries and jobs that will definitely change the destiny of Pakistan. This looks difficult but is not something impossible to achieve. In 1979 before economic reforms in China, China’s GDP per capita was lower than Pakistan. However, presently China stood at US $ 8069 while Pakistan is still stuck between US $ 1400 to 1500. As mentioned earlier China’s support in the CPEC is the key to Pakistan’s success. China has all the experience that Pakistan needs at the moment. The need of the hour is to keep all the differences aside and leave no stone unturned to make CPEC as an exemplary economic between China and Pakistan for the rest to follow.

China Transforming Malaysia

Hassnain Javed


Although the influx of Chinese investments is only a recent phenomenon, these funds are bringing speedy changes to local industries and the economic landscape. Malaysia’s economy is being transformed by huge and high-tech investments from China, with revolutionary changes seen in several sectors – particularly in manufacturing and construction.

In manufacturing, Malaysia has become the world’s third largest solar cell manufacturer – after mainland China and Taiwan. It has also become a glass exporter – instead of importer – after China firms poured in billions into the sector last year.

In construction, a Chinese contractor is using proven technology to build a tower in the Tun Razak Exchange at a faster rate of one floor every three days. This is among those contracts worth billions of US dollars clinched by Chinese builders in Malaysia.

During my short visit to Malaysia and interaction with high government officials I was able to streamline following major highlights from economic, social and financial domains. According to Huang, sporting a batik shirt at the Chinese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, “Malaysia is able to bag the most benefits from China’s Belt and Road initiative. The country is gaining in economic growth, employment opportunities, and opportunities to upgrade and transform its industries/economy. He also said that China is buying Malaysia’s sovereign bonds in the open market on a daily basis, thus giving support to the ringgit.

Moreover, in the first six months of last year, Malaysian non-finance FDI totaled US$480mil (RM2bil), a rise of 6% over the value in January-June 2016. Furthermore, it is expected on total bilateral trade volume due to slower economic growth, fall in commodity prices, depreciation of the ringgit, etc, the value of China-Malaysia trade fell 10.7% to US$86.87bil last year. But this year, trade value has risen healthily after recovery in prices of major export items from Malaysia. In the first seven months of last year, China-Malaysia trade posted US$52.55bil or a rise of 14.8% over similar period in 2016. With efforts by both nations, they are aim for the return of US$100bil in 2018.

There are five major bilateral achievements that have been made due to close bilateral ties which includes China continuing to be Malaysia’s largest trade partner for the eighth year in a row. In addition, China topped the FDI country list last year. It was the first time Malaysia surpassed the United States, Japan and Singapore in FDI value. Moreover, they collectively surpassed Singapore to be the largest investor in Malaysia’s real estate. Furthermore, China continued to be one of the largest foreign contractors. Chinese corporations are contractors for many huge infrastructure projects. Lastly, China ranked first in terms of visitor arrivals to Malaysia, after Singapore and Indonesia. Last year, it was recorded 2.2 million tourist arrivals for the first time. Based on an average spending of RM5,000 per person, in contrast Malaysian people have contributed about RM11bil to the local economy. This year, Malaysia is looking at three million and a spending of about RM15bil. In the first half of 2018, it is also expected to record 1.48 million tourist arrivals.

Besides this, they are many benefits that Malaysia has gained from China’s Belt and Road initiative. With the entry of Malayisan corporations, Malaysia has become a new leader in certain sectors and there is significant improvement in some industries. For instance, take the example of the glass sector. In the past, Malaysia had to spend RM1.5bil per year to import glass. After investments by Kibing Glass Group and Xinyi Glass Holdings Ltd, Malaysia has become a glass exporter instead. Another example is the solar cell sector. Two Chinese companies have invested in Penang and one in Sarawak. Malaysia has now become the third largest solar cell producer in the world, after mainland China and Taiwan.

Likewise, there is a high-tech textile factory in Johor Baru set up by the Chinese.In the auto sector, there is a strategic partnership of Proton and Geely. And in the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) to help digitise Malaysian economy, Alibaba is the main partner. On the other hand, in the oil and gas sector, the pipeline transporting oil products from Melaka to Jitra (in Kedah) is starting construction soon, after an agreement signing last November. The Government is looking at extending the pipeline and talks are being held on this extension. In Sabah, there will be a multi-billion ringgit gas pipeline linking Sandakan to Kimanis.

Over the last three years, China’s actual investment in real estate was at US$2.1bil (RM8.9bil), surpassing US$1bil (RM4.3bil) by Singapore. Besides this, China is also supporting the ringgit (Malaysian currency) by buying their respective sovereign bonds. Chinese Premier Li Keqiag visited Malaysia in the end of 2015 and said China would help to support the Malaysian economy. China carried out measures such as granting a 50-billion yuan quota to Malaysia under the Renminbi-Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor programme and buying Malaysian government bonds in line with market rules. China also called for more joint efforts to stabilise financial markets and boost investment and trade cooperation to tackle global financial instability and other economic woes. These statements further strengthened the ringgit.

Apart from this, it is observed to have some local opposition towards China’s investments as Chinese firms are not dishing out contracts to local players. Chinese corporations are in Malaysia to create win-win collaborations for both countries. There is no issue of taking away the “rice bowls” of locals. In fact, every Chinese project brings employment opportunities and economic growth. Beside from business development, Chinese corporations also emphasise on social responsibility. Investment from China is bringing mutual benefits to both countries and hopefully people here will not politicize Chinese investments in Malaysia.

Moreover, Chinese corporations are undertaking mega projects that local Malaysian firms are not capable of doing, as they need world-class technical requirement. These corporations are world-class top players, with sophisticated technical expertise. You can see in two examples. Penang’s second bridge, an excellent model for the construction of bridges, is showcasing high standard of expertise. Malaysian firms have yet to reach such level. In the construction of Tun Razak Exchange (TRX), the Chinese company is able to complete one storey in three days. In comparison, the Petronas Twin Towers constructed by the Koreans and Japanese in the 1990s saw one storey per month. These are difficult jobs that require high technical and engineering capabilities. But for most other mega projects, there are jobs that can involve the local contractors. In the case of East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) has announced that at least 30% of the civil engineering work will be awarded to local contractors. The electrified double-tracking railway line linking Gemas with Johor Baru will see 50% of the civil construction works awarded to local players. For projects which locals are capable of undertaking, Chinese enterprises may not have the competitive edge against them.

In order to conclude, I end up with some optimistic predictions. In my view the local Malaysian economy this year would grow faster than 4.5% and the ringgit would appreciate by 5% to 8%. The key takeaway is that China has confidence in Malaysian economy, so Malaysians should have confidence in their economy, too.

21st-century unicorn – or the future?

Hassnain Javed


Principally everybody can be a miner. Since a decentralized network has no authority to delegate this task, a cryptocurrency needs some kind of mechanism to prevent one ruling party from abusing it. Imagine someone creates thousands of peers and spreads forged transactions. The system would break immediately.

So, Satoshi set the rule that the miners need to invest some work of their computers to qualify for this task. In fact, they have to find a hash – a product of a cryptographic function – that connects the new block with its predecessor. This is called the Proof-of-Work. In Bitcoin, it is based on the SHA 256 Hash algorithm. Basically, cryptocurrencies are entries about token in decentralized consensus-databases. They are called CRYPTOcurrencies because the consensus-keeping process is secured by strong cryptography. Cryptocurrencies are built on cryptography. They are not secured by people or by trust, but by math. It is more probable that an asteroid falls on your house than that a bitcoin address is compromised.

Describing the properties of cryptocurrencies we need to separate between transactional and monetary properties. While most cryptocurrencies share a common set of properties, they are not carved in stone.

Transactional properties:

1.) Irreversible: After confirmation, a transaction can‘t be reversed. By nobody. And nobody means nobody. Not you, not your bank, not the president of the United States, not Satoshi, not your miner. Nobody. If you send money, you send it. Period. No one can help you, if you sent your funds to a scammer or if a hacker stole them from your computer. There is no safety net.

2.) Pseudonymous: Neither transactions nor accounts are connected to real-world identities. You receive Bitcoins on so-called addresses, which are randomly seeming chains of around 30 characters. While it is usually possible to analyze the transaction flow, it is not necessarily possible to connect the real world identity of users with those addresses.

3.) Fast and global: Transaction are propagated nearly instantly in the network and are confirmed in a couple of minutes. Since they happen in a global network of computers they are completely indifferent of your physical location. It doesn‘t matter if I send Bitcoin to my neighbour or to someone on the other side of the world.

4.) Secure: Cryptocurrency funds are locked in a public key cryptography system. Only the owner of the private key can send cryptocurrency. Strong cryptography and the magic of big numbers make it impossible to break this scheme. A Bitcoin address is more secure than Fort Knox.

5.) Permissionless: You don‘t have to ask anybody to use cryptocurrency. It‘s just a software that everybody can download for free. After you installed it, you can receive and send Bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies. No one can prevent you. There is no gatekeeper.

Monetary properties:

1.) Controlled supply: Most cryptocurrencies limit the supply of the tokens. In Bitcoin, the supply decreases in time and will reach its final number somewhere in around 2140. All cryptocurrencies control the supply of the token by a schedule written in the code. This means the monetary supply of a cryptocurrency in every given moment in the future can roughly be calculated today. There is no surprise.

2.) No debt but bearer: The Fiat-money on your bank account is created by debt, and the numbers, you see on your ledger represent nothing but debts. It‘s a system of IOU. Cryptocurrencies don‘t represent debts. They just represent themselves. They are money as hard as coins of gold.

To understand the revolutionary impact of cryptocurrencies you need to consider both properties. Bitcoin as a permissionless, irreversible and pseudonymous means of payment is an attack on the control of banks and governments over the monetary transactions of their citizens. You can‘t hinder someone to use Bitcoin, you can‘t prohibit someone to accept a payment, you can‘t undo a transaction. As money with a limited, controlled supply that is not changeable by a government, a bank or any other central institution, cryptocurrencies attack the scope of the monetary policy. They take away the control central banks take on inflation or deflation by manipulating the monetary supply.

After understanding the transactional and monetary properties cryptocurrencies is seemingly dawn of new economy. Mostly due to its revolutionary properties cryptocurrencies have become a success their inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, didn‘t dare to dream of it. While every other attempt to create a digital cash system didn‘t attract a critical mass of users, Bitcoin had something that provoked enthusiasm and fascination. Sometimes it feels more like religion than technology. Cryptocurrencies are digital gold. Sound money that is secure from political influence. Money that promises to preserve and increase its value over time. Cryptocurrencies are also a fast and comfortable means of payment with a worldwide scope, and they are private and anonymous enough to serve as a means of payment for black markets and any other outlawed economic activity.

 But, while cryptocurrencies are more used for payment, its use as a means of speculation and a store of value dwarfs the payment aspects. Cryptocurrencies gave birth to an incredibly dynamic, fast-growing market for investors and speculators. Exchanges like Okcoin, poloniex or shapeshift enables the trade of hundreds of cryptocurrencies. Their daily trade volume exceeds that of major European stock exchanges. At the same time, the praxis of Initial Coin Distribution (ICO), mostly facilitated by Ethereum‘s smart contracts, gave live to incredibly successful crowdfunding projects, in which often an idea is enough to collect millions of dollars. In the case of “The DAO” it has been more than 150 million dollars.

In this rich ecosystem of coins and token, you experience extreme volatility. It‘s common that a coin gains 10 percent a day – sometimes 100 percent – just to lose the same at the next day. If you are lucky, your coin‘s value grows up to 1000 percent in one or two weeks. While Bitcoin remains by far the most famous cryptocurrency and most other cryptocurrencies have zero non-speculative impact, investors and users should keep an eye on several cryptocurrencies. Here we present the most popular cryptocurrencies of today.

The one and only, the first and most famous cryptocurrency. Bitcoin serves as a digital gold standard in the whole cryptocurrency-industry, is used as a global means of payment and is the de-facto currency of cyber-crime like darknet markets or ransomware. After seven years in existence, Bitcoin‘s price has increased from zero to more than 650 Dollar, and its transaction volume reached more than 200.000 daily transactions. There is not much more to say: Bitcoin is here to stay.

The market of cryptocurrencies is fast and wild. Nearly every day new cryptocurrencies emerge, old die, early adopters get wealthy and investors lose money. Every cryptocurrency comes with a promise, mostly a big story to turn the world around. Few survive the first months, and most are pumped and dumped by speculators and live on as zombie coins until the last bagholder loses hope ever to see a return on his investment.

Markets are dirty. But this doesn‘t change the fact that cryptocurrencies are here to stay – and here to change the world. This is already happening. People all over the world buy Bitcoin to protect themselves against the devaluation of their national currency. Mostly in Asia, a vivid market for Bitcoin remittance has emerged, and the Bitcoin using darknets of cybercrime are flourishing. More and more companies discover the power of Smart Contracts or token on Ethereum, the first real-world application of blockchain technologies emerge.

The revolution is already happening. Institutional investors start to buy cryptocurrencies. Banks and governments realize that this invention has the potential to draw their control away. Cryptocurrencies change the world. Step by step. You can both stand beside and observe or you can become part of history in the making.