First Bitcoin Exchange Starts in Pakistan


"We plan to create a platform (Urdubit Bitcoin Exchange) where people feel safe with the world of Bitcoin and hopefully substitute it for trading locally as easily as Pakistani rupees, while giving everyone an opportunity to invest in this commodity." Zain Tariq, Urdubit, Pakistan


Zain Tariq and Danyal Manzar have launched Pakistan's first Bitcoin exchange called Urbudit, according to media reports.

It represents an attempt to introduce Pakistanis to the  digital currency and bring them into the wider Bitcoin community.



As a virtual currency, Bitcoin is created and stored electronically on a computer or mobile device.  There are over a hundred digital currencies in use today but Bitcoin is by far the most popular one and accounts for more than two-thirds of the virtual currency market.

Satoshi Nakamoto, a computer programmer, proposed Bitcoin, which was an electronic payment system based on mathematical proof. The idea was to produce a currency independent of any central authority, transferable electronically, more or less instantly, with extremely low transaction fees.

Unlike national currencies, no one controls Bitcoin. Bitcoins aren’t printed, like dollars or euros – they’re produced by lots of people running computers all around the world, using software that solves mathematical problems. It’s a growing category of money known as cryptocurrency.

Urdubit exchange's main focus is on bringing liquidity to the Pakistani Bitcoin market, and educate the people on the use of the cryptocurrency as a commodity. To accelerate these processes, Tariq and Manzar built a Bitcoin community and advocacy group called BitcoinPk. According to Tariq, Pakistan's Bitcoin community is still small, although active, and rather dispersed.

There's a lot of activity around Bitcoin in Silicon Valley. A number of entrepreneurs, including Pakistanis, are pursuing opportunities offered by digital currencies. One such Silicon Valley Pakistani entrepreneur is Haseeb Awan, co-founder of BitAccess, who is developing Bitcoin ATM machines.

Bitcoin is attracting the attention of law enforcement agencies, tax authorities, and various government regulators, all of whom are trying to understand how the cryptocurrency fits into existing frameworks. US law-enforcement and securities agencies have said at a recent Senate hearing that digital currencies could be legitimate means of exchange, spurring more investments by venture capitalists.

Bitcoin Price Oct 7 2012 to Oct 15 2014 Source: CoinDesk


The legality of your Bitcoin activities will depend on who you are, where you live, and what you are doing with it, according to Coindesk. Bitcoin has proven to be a contentious issue for regulators and law enforcers, both of which have targeted the digital currency in an attempt to control its use. It's still early in the game, and many legal authorities are still struggling to understand the cryptocurrency, let alone legislate around it. It's another case of legislation significantly lagging technology.  In the end, the currency's future will depend on how many consumers and businesses adopt it and eventual recognition of such transactions by various national governments around the world.

Here's a video explaining Bitcoin mining in Urdu:

http://vimeo.com/84558750


CPU MINING Urdu Tutorial from Dablio Raja on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Financial Services in Pakistan

Mobile Banking in Pakistan

Pakistan Among Most Popular Outsourcing Destination

Microfinance in Pakistan

Pakistanis in Silicon Valley




Comments

Riaz Haq said…
#Urdu version of Whatsapp soon to be launched in #Pakistan http://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/technology/urdu-version-of-whatsapp-soon-to-be-launched/#.VbZt6vE8OvA.twitter

Whatsapp for androids has been fully translated into Urdu and will soon be launched in Pakistan.

This milestone is achieved by Ahsan Saeed who works as a Translation Administrator for WhatsApp, the Tech Juice reported.

Ahsan, along with his team of hardworking volunteers, translated 753 strings and moderated 2089 strings in less than three months.

With this achievement, Urdu has become the 18th language that Whatsapp has been officially translated to.

After the announcement of translation of all government websites into Urdu, the Urdu version of Whatsapp targets a wider local audience.

With the increased usage of 3G/4G mobile internet and smartphones, a huge chunk of population will be able to get the advantage of the messaging which failed to do so otherwise due to the language barrier.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan minister confirms the country is switching to #Urdu, dropping #English as official language http://ti.me/1DMF3KB via @TIMEWorld Pakistan is dropping English as its official language and switching to Urdu, a popular language in the Indian subcontinent.

The long-rumored change was confirmed by Pakistani Minister of Planning, National Reforms, and Development Ahsan Iqbal in an exclusive interview with TIME.

Iqbal said the change was being made because of a court directive. The Pakistani constitution, which was passed in 1973, included a clause specifying that the government must make Urdu the national language within 15 years, but it had not been enforced.

Still, Iqbal said the country is not entirely abandoning English, which will still be taught alongside Urdu in schools.

“It means Urdu will be a second medium of language and all official business will be bilingual,” he said.

Some Pakistanis fear that the move is part of an official backlash against the younger generation, which has been more open to Western culture.

But Iqbal argued that the move would help make Pakistan more democratic, since it will “help provide greater participation to people who don’t know English, hence making the government more inclusive.”

Urdu is just one of a number of languages spoken in Pakistan, but it retains a cultural cachet as the language of movies and music as well as the Islamic religion, while English has been more popular among elites and government ministries.

According to the CIA Factbook, nearly half of Pakistanis speak Punjabi, the language of the Punjab region, while only 8% speak Urdu. Several other languages are spoken by a fraction of the population.

The decision to break away from English creates a stark contrast with Pakistan’s neighbor and longtime rival India. English was the official language of the area that now comprises both countries under British rule, which ended in 1947.

Despite a similar language clause in its constitution, India continues to use both English and Hindi as its official languages.
Riaz Haq said…
Sounds Familiar: #Pakistan #Bitcoin Surges While Gov’t Crushes #Cash. #Demonitization #India https://cointelegraph.com/news/sounds-familiar-pakistan-bitcoin-surges-while-govt-crushes-cash … via @Cointelegraph

In the week the country’s Senate advised the scrapping of its highest value banknote, Pakistan’s Bitcoin trading volume has shot up almost 400%.

The Senate resolution, which was adopted even though the Pakistani government opposes it, would see the 5000 rupee note removed “to reduce illicit money flow.”

Cash war copycat

Multiple news agencies report that Pakistan is aiming to counteract illegal activities conducted with cash and that the move could be a copycat of India’s rupee removals in November.

Reuters reports a Senate angle that has fewer high-value notes “would encourage the use of bank accounts and reduce the size of the undocumented economy.”

Ironically, India has previously indicated one of the reasons behind its moves to replace cash in its economy was to curb money forgery originating in Pakistan.

As its replacement notes came into circulation, the Indian press reported them already being recovered from “terrorists” in Kashmir.

According to the Senate, however, Pakistan’s reforms would be in a different style to those over the border. Notes would be decommissioned not within a matter of days, but years.

Pakistani FinTech lies in wait

Nonetheless, the announcement appears to have added fuel to an already expanding Bitcoin exchange market suddenly exploding with new interest. Unlike India, though, the Bitcoin economy of Pakistan still leaves something to be desired in terms of facilities.

Local Bitcoin exchange Urdubit recently took part in a workshop specifically aimed at cracking customer penetration for startups offering digital economy-related technologies.

“Despite the high potential, a majority of Pakistani SMEs are yet to adopt e-commerce or are sub-optimally engaged,” a press release on the event last month stated.

Organizer Ali Sarfraz Hussain added that “although Pakistan is a latecomer to this sector, e-commerce is rising massively and e-commerce players are mushrooming in the country.”

Pakistan is just the latest economy to toy enter the war on cash. India is not alone, Venezuela and Australia have already launched or are considering their own cash reforms.

Riaz Haq said…
#Tax Authorities In #Pakistan Zero In At #Bitcoin Traders. #FBR #SBP https://cointelegraph.com/news/tax-authorities-in-pakistan-zero-in-at-bitcoin-traders … via @Cointelegraph

Tax authorities across the globe have set their sights on Bitcoin traders. The latest to join the set is the FBR (Federal Board of Revenue) in Pakistan.

Bitcoin in Pakistan
While Asian countries like Japan, China and South Korea have been in the news for people taking a fancy to Bitcoin, adoption in Pakistan has been low key.

The first Bitcoin exchange in Pakistan, Urdubit, was established in 2014. There is tremendous potential for Bitcoin in Pakistan, with the country receiving remittances of $20 bln every year. Pakistan also has a vibrant freelance economy, with estimated revenue of $1 bln.

Wider adoption of Bitcoin can bring efficiencies in both remittances and payment for online freelancing.

Windfall profits
The recent rapid increase in Bitcoin price has meant that Bitcoin investors were able to reap windfall profits. Not all of them declare this income, resulting in scrutiny from tax authorities.

In the US, the IRS served a John Doe summons to Coinbase, asking it to hand over details of US customer transactions. The IRS had sought details of customer transactions between 2013 to 2015, much before the current bull rally.

In Pakistan, the volume of Bitcoin transactions has recently increased, leading to the intelligence department of the FBR launching an investigation.

The objectives of the FBR are two-fold – detect cases of tax evasion as well as money laundering. According to tax officials, major traders of Bitcoin have not reported their business profits to tax authorities and hence a summons has been issued.

Cracking down
The State Bank of Pakistan does not recognize cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin. Cryptocurrencies are traded as commodities and the government has not shown any indication that it would either regulate or impede cryptocurrency transactions.

The focus of the current government action seems to be restricted to cracking down on cases of money laundering and tax evasion. The government will find it tough to restrict its people from purchasing a deflationary currency when the average rate of inflation in Pakistan during the last 60 years is 7.8 percent.

Riaz Haq said…
Google adds voice support on web for #Urdu, 29 other languages spoken in #Africa, #India, #Pakistan | TechCrunch

Google today is expanding its speech recognition capabilities to support dozens of new languages, particularly those in emerging markets in India and Africa, the company announced this morning. That means more people around the world will gain the ability to search the web by voice as well as type via voice using Google’s keyboard app, Gboard.

The company says with the update, it’s adding 30 languages and locales around the world, bringing the total supported to 119. The update includes 8 more Indian languages, as well as Swahili and Amharic, two of Africa’s largest languages.

The new speech recognition will be initially supported in Gboard for Android and Voice Search. U.S. English speakers, meanwhile, can now use voice dictation to express themselves using emojis, too. (e.g. you can just say “winky face emoji” instead of hunting for it.)

The new languages are also available today in the Cloud Speech API, which already supported 89 languages, and is used in a number of third-party voice and video applications, like transcription services, speech analytics applications, IVR applications, and more.

In time, the new languages will be added to other Google products, including the Google Translate app.

However, the more critical part of this news is what this means for those in emerging markets – regions that are often ignored when it comes to being among the first to gain access to new technology advances from tech giants.

But with mobile, that’s changed. Tech companies are now aiming to establish footholds in these regions, as the next large swath of internet users come online.

In India, especially, Google’s move to expand speech recognition tech could have a significant impact. The country is estimated to have some 420 million mobile internet users as of this June, making India one of the biggest markets in the world for companies like Apple, Google and Facebook to address.

Google’s expansion with voice technology also comes shortly after a piece in The Wall Street Journal detailed how tech companies are rethinking their products for the developing world – in particular, how the next billion mobile users will heavily take advantage of technologies like video and voice. Google, for example, told The WSJ, that it’s been seeing “a new kind of internet user” – a group that’s “very different from the first billion” in terms of how they access the web.

To develop speech recognition capabilities for these new languages, Google combined human labor with its machine learning technology.

The company says that it works with native speakers to collect speech samples by asking them to read common phrases. This, in turn, helped to train Google’s machine learning models to better understand the sounds and words of the new languages to improve their accuracy when they were exposed to more examples over time.

The full list of new languages includes the following:

Amharic (Ethiopia)
Armenian (Armenia)
Azerbaijani (Azerbaijani)
Bengali (Bangladesh, India)
English (Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania)
Georgian (Georgia)
Gujarati (India)
Javanese (Indonesia)
Kannada (India)
Khmer (Cambodian)
Lao (Laos)
Latvian (Latvia)
Malayalam (India)
Marathi (India)
Nepali (Nepal)
Sinhala (Sri Lanka)
Sundanese (Indonesia)
Swahili (Tanzania, Kenya)
Tamil (India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Malaysia)
Telugu (India)
Urdu (Pakistan, India)

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