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Discussion with Nofal Ahmad Butt

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CxO Global Forum | Interview with Nofal Ahmad Butt

Tell us about yourself, how did you reach there:

After doing my MBA in Finance I moved around a lot and took different roles in different companies. I embrace change and am open to challenges, innovation and like doing new things. I always tell everyone I want to be “Jack of all trades”. I got my lucky break in 2008 when after completing a Project for Ghana Stock Exchange, I was asked to become a consultant to its subsidiary GSE Securities Depository. It was then when I met Saqib, a Pakistani living in Ghana for over 40 years. And we launched Interpayafrica a PSP in Ghana in 2014. We are exclusive development partners for Emergent Payments Ghana Limited (formerly Interpay Limited). And then decided to launch our own bill aggregation services in 2020 under the brand PayAbhi.

How do you see Technology is changing our Lives:

Technology has already changed our lives in many ways. And to be honest, I think it has influenced us more than it should have. I am getting scared of time we give to all these tools, and for me it’s getting to a point where it has started affecting our personal life and our next generation. I know it’s hard to explain, but we really need to think hard and think twice about how much of our lives we should allow technology to influence. We all know most of the inventions are not good or bad on their own, it’s how we use them that make them good or bad for us. But I feel technology has deep roots now that we can not avoid it even if we want to and that is dangerous. We are actually becoming slaves of technology, which I really do not like.

What are your best accomplishments:

I would say none so far in my professional life. May be the best accomplishment is being a father of four 😊

What is Disruption for you?
WhatsApp for me is a disruption both in good and bad. I really do not know how, but the way WhatsApp changes the way of communication is really amazing. On the good side it is undoubtedly the most convenient way of communication. But its abuse has really frustrated me. Since long I have been trying to replace it with other tools in the market, but with no success. So this is disruption.

What is the future of E-Commerce you see in Pakistan

Obviously eCom is the future, but I think eCom has been misunderstood by many. Any commercial transaction done online is eCom may it be for goods or services. And if we specifically talk about eCom for goods like Amazon or any other marketplace for goods only, we still have a long way to go. Having a marketplace is just not enough; it’s an entire ecosystem where every leg of the transaction is equally important. It includes supply chain, quality assurance, delivery channels, refunds and returns, consumer protection. Consumer protection though is most important, but again in our parts of the world it can easily be misused by the consumers themselves. So coming back to the question, yes eCom is the future, but still a lot of loose ends and it does require change of mindset, which is never easy.

What is your Vision & Goal

I believe in putting in the best of my efforts with total sincerity, dedication, hard-work, honesty, innovation, thinking out of the box solutions. And then leave the results to ALLAH. My job is just putting in my best efforts. I want to continue working hard, taking on challenges and putting in my best. I think “leading from the front” is my vision and goal, but again even when leading I want to be in the back seat controlling all the affairs and let someone else be in the limelight. I am more happy and comfortable this way. 😊

How can we become a digital country?
It has to start with the will of the decision makers, but it does require a lot of hard work from both the government and the private sector. For me ease of doing business is the key with some very innovative and tax friendly culture. All other factors will automatically be resolved over time.

What inspires you?
Helping others. Resolving other peoples’ problems

How do you see the Industry Academia gap?

I for one do not believe it. The best learning is on the job training. The biggest challenge again is the change in mindset of the new generation, who want to become rich and fast. The will to learn is missing. The most important aspect lacking in our education system is actually grooming the students and focusing more on the personality of the young ones. If you have the will to learn, then I do not see any gap between the Academia and the Industry. Though I strongly believe there is a lot of room for improvement but most important factor is personality and character building, which for me is the biggest issue at hand.

How do you see Startups in Pakistan?

I do see a lot of forums and institutes focusing on it, but my knowledge is very limited, so I would not comment any further.
What should Government take steps to make country digital
I mentioned earlier ease of doing business, a very tax friendly regime and building tax payers confidence.

Does ERP implementations come into digitizing?

In my personal opinion NO. For me a billing system where the company can bill its customers electronically, and receive payments electronically is the key to basic digitization. ERP and DMS can definitely compliment the digitizing process, but cannot be terms as basics for digitizing.

Why do businesses fail at an early stage in Pakistan?

Multiple reasons. And again in my opinion the biggest reasons are (a) lack of proper homework and a sound business plan. (b) recovery of payments (c) nepotism (d) lack of professional and business ethics.

What steps should be taken in the E-Commerce Industry?

I have no specific answer to it. But a lot has been said in the earlier questions, which covers a lot. We have to realize we need to have a complete ecosystem around digitizing the economy. eCom alone cannot grow in isolation.

Are you satisfied with the current E-Commerce Policy?
No comments, as I have not even read the current eCom policy 😊

What is the future of online selling in Pakistan?
Huge, but as already explained earlier we need to connect all the dots that lead to a successful online selling marketplace.

What was your strategy during Covid-19
I have a very different point of view on Covid-19. It’s just a new disruption like WhatsApp. 😊 We need to adapt to it and find our way to use it to our advantage.

What is the future of Fintech in Pakistan?
It’s like every other industry in the country. Unfortunately, any good opportunity is exploited by the ones who have the muscle and the resources. Take the example of CNG stations, or Uber and Careem.
Secondly Fintech is becoming a confusing and complex space, where banks are also in race.

How can we make people financially literate or enabled?

It will take time, as the first step is the government’s will and proper policy that will drive financial literacy to the masses. Majority of the people already are financially literate but still do not use the various financial tools available. Mainly because of fear of taxations, data leakage, and exploitation

How banks are transforming?

Again good and bad. Banks are focusing more on value added services than their core business. And may be rightly so, as we all know how the economy has been performing since the last few decades. If there is no economic activity or industrial growth or expansion is business, how will the banks make money for their core business. So every bank is focusing on value added services

How are we handling Cyber Security Issues in Pakistan?

I am not an expert on it. But for data protection at the moment is far more crucial than cyber security. More worrying are the spam and scam call based frauds, which in my opinion can be eliminated, if we have the will and with right efforts from the telcos and PTA.

What are the security risks we have in Pakistan business & individual

Easy to do business. Harassment by all the government departments to legit business.

How can Government help SMEs to strengthen

SME will automatically grow with the growth in the economy. So healthy economy is the key to all growth in the country

Why we don’t prefer local vendors in software & ERP

In my opinion after sales support, and fear of the vendors ability to continue the business .

What is the future of Cloud Computing in Pakistan?
Very bright, but again proper and cloud-friendly regulations need to be in-place.

How do you see Freelancing in Pakistan why it is restricted to IT only

I honestly don’t know. I would prefer a more structured way of doing business even in this space. Freelancing or any other services when offered offshore is more successful. As soon as we look to have services within Pakistan, we again are caught up in delivery, quality issues.

Why we are dependent on Government policies

It is an international phenomenon, governments lay down the broad-based policy to ensure economic growth. However, we are also handicapped by the new international laws covering AML, FATF etc, forcing the government and the central bank to have tight policies making it tough for business to survive or grow.

How CxO Forum have given you benefit, what change have you seen after joining
Definitely a very good platform to communicate with the professionals in different industries. But I have been a bit unfortunate as I really am caught up in day to day affairs of my business. So I am not very active to take full use of the Forum.

Do you think, collaboration is the key? for small businesses

Future will be all about collaborations. Businesses are becoming very demanding and aggressive. Capitalism has its own dynamics, so it’s very difficult for any small business to survive on its own for long. So collaboration is the key to survive and grow, by finding synergies and acknowledging the strengths of others and also focus on your own strong points. Look at all the industries, each industry has a long list of vendors, without whom the end product cannot be delivered. So the IT industry is also like any other industry where you need vendors (partners or collaborators). Merger, acquisitions, buyout are all other terms for collaboration, but obviously not in true sense. But this is what this system is.

What are the 5 top things you think we are behind from the rest of the world?
Education, Health, Public Transportation, Civic sense, Rule of law (accountability)

What are the best 5 things you think we are better from other countries
Intelligence, Opportunities, Agriculture,

How do you see the youth of Pakistan?
Our biggest strength, if we groom them right and give them the right opportunities.

Are you satisfied with the current educational system? what changes you suggest

I am satisfied. Yes we need to improve the government education system, but it again is linked to the growth of the economy. No single segment can improve unless there is justice in the country. So accountability, justice and rule of law holds the key to everything.

What are the major steps the government should take in the Fintech Industry?
It has already been addressed in detail in the early part of this interview.

How can fintech ease an individual in Pakistan? Are we ready for it?
Any technology is to ease an individual if used rightly, it brings in efficiency, saves time and efforts and should also save costs. Fintech will do the same. Though middle income of the major cities is ready for it, keepingv in view our total population size, and its demography, we have a long way to go. But this is the right time to start.

Is an individual in Pakistan paying income tax? How difficult is the process?
Paying tax is always a very difficult choice for any individual living in the third world country. But complex procedures and complex rules add to it. So if the tax laws are simplified and made rationale it will definitely help in converting more individuals to pay tax. The process is not user-friendly at all. We know the level of education of an average person in Pakistan, so the tax laws really need to be focusing on making them simpler and with some rationale.

What is the importance of Data for businesses?
Data holds the key to any successful business. No decision can be taken without looking and analysing the data. This is one of the major reasons that the majority of the businesses fail in Pakistan, as the decision makers do not review and analyse the data on a regular basis.

How data can make an impact on the growth of businesses?
Data analysis gives a picture of the affairs of the business, and if proper analysis is done, it helps you make the right decisions, change or continue your policies based on what that data depicts.

How to use data & information for growth & better performance
Data trends and analysis give the entire picture of affairs of your business, which is the key for good and wise decision making

How can we make Pakistan a better Country?
By working for the country 😊_

How can we increase jobs?
Better policies with one focus only “ease of doing business”, and tax / government revenues will grow automatically, directly or indirectly.

Why our new talent is not aligned with current job scenario
In my opinion there is no focus on personality building, it’s just pushing information to the pupil.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time
Relax. Away from all gadgets.

What makes you excited about Mondays?
Work. I love my work. ALHAMDULILLAH

What is your biggest regret in your life
No regrets.

How do you empower others?
By delegating, and making them accountable for all the good and bad.

How do you solve the problem?
With involvement in an open and frank discussion with all the concerned.

How do you manage anger?
By keeping quiet for a few minutes.

What was your first salary?
Rs. 7,000

What is the best thing in you, you think everybody should know?
Trustworthy.

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
Going for a new challenge

Can you tell me about a time when you almost gave up, how you felt about that, and what you did instead of giving up?
I tend to think myself of being realistic. So I don’t feel shy in giving up when I know I am not right person for this assignment.

Are you the smartest person you know?
Of course no. I have met and learned a lot from a lot of people who are and were smarter.

What is your dream job?
Farming Or going back to nature. 😊

Tell us about your failures
I never remember my failures, what’s gone is gone.

What is your favorite quote
Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach. – Tony Robbins

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