Introduction & Purpose
Knowledge update and Industry update at Skyline University College (SUC) is an online platform for communicating knowledge with SUC stakeholders, industry, and the outside world about the current trends of business development, technology, and social changes. The platform helps in branding SUC as a leading institution of updated knowledge base and in encouraging faculties, students, and others to create and contribute under different streams of domain and application. The platform also acts as a catalyst for learning and sharing knowledge in various areas.
In today’s ever-changing world and with the Covid-19 pandemic going on, having basic personal financial skills is one of the most valuable things you can do to live a healthy, happy, and secure life. Personal finance teaches you how to handle your financial situation and establish a life of wealth in the future and be able to finish your goals. The successful investor, Warren Buffet, has been quoted often when it comes to managing finances and investments. One of his famous quotes is: “The most important investment you can make is yourself.” The quote speaks for itself. The money spent on enriching your knowledge and skills is money well spent. When it comes to personal finance, the best investment would be to invest in your financial literacy and your knowledge in personal finance. Let’s look at some of the points highlighted:
Income generation, budgeting, and spending: Net worth is one of the most important measures of wealth. It is the amount that remains after a household's debts are subtracted from its assets. During this decade's housing bubble, housing values rose faster than mortgage debt. Consequently, net worth grew substantially - up 18 percent for the average household between 2015 and 2020, after adjusting for inflation. The gain did not last, however. The World Bank estimates that by October 2020, the median net worth for the average household had fallen to AED99, 000 -3 percent less than in 2015. Householders under age 35 (the oldest Millennials turned 35 in 2020) saw their median net worth plummet to AED 1 1, 800 in 2007 - 24 percent below the level of 2015 after adjusting for inflation. Behind the decline in the net worth of the youngest householders was the growing share with debt, in part because so many young adults now have student loans. (Bair, 2020)
Asset Creation and Investment: Between 2015 and 2020, the value of the financial assets of the average American household rose 14 percent after adjusting for inflation - to a median of AED28,800 according to the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances. The median value of the financial assets owned by householders under age 35 grew at a faster clip - up 19 percent during those years to AED 6,800. The value of non-financial assets owned by householders under age 35, however, took a 13 percent dive during those years. In 2020, the median value of the non-financial assets owned by householders in the age group stood at a modest AED30, 900. (Bair, 2020)
Savings and Family Security: It used to be called saving for a rainy day, however, sudden financial changes can still throw you off track. It is good to have some investments with high liquidity. These investments can be used for emergencies or educational purposes.
I would suggest to all readers out there that instead of social media scrolling, imagine how much you could learn if you spend some of that time to improve your financial knowledge.
Bair, Shara Kelly. 2020. Exploring the Perceptions of the Influence of Faith-Based Training on Financial Literacy. North Central University Publication, pp: 45-80.
Prof. Raid Al-Adaileh From Different Corners
The endless transformations we are witnessing in the world today in political, economic, technological and social domains have changed many concepts and practices not only within the context of business organizations but also within the domain of governmental organizations. Governments all over the world are seeking to exploit the accelerated knowledge revolution and the opportunities it brings with it to improve the quality of government work and to achieve internal efficiency and effectiveness. Additionally, transparency, accountability and agility of the government have become basic requirements for citizens and all entities dealing with the government.
Many countries have made substantial leaps in this direction. Some have gone beyond the so-called concept of e-government which is based on the use of information and communication technologies to deliver government services to the concept of e-governance which includes fundamental changes in the government in its institutional concept in terms of its structure, operations, systems, legislations and all its components through the optimal use of renewable technological capabilities. This includes a fundamental rethinking of the government’s relationships with its stakeholders with the aim of achieving long-term strategic goals that include improving the quality of life, creating of agile government and changing the bureaucratic stereotype of government.
This shift towards e-governance requires a fundamental change in relation to the mentality of government, its management paradigms as well as its culture. Similar changes are essential in the societal culture, educational system in addition to a huge amount of investments in building and maintaining an improved technical infrastructure at the level of governmental organizations as well as at the country’s level in general. This radical shift also requires strengthening the integration of government institutions and the development of what so called networked government. Many countries succeeded in meeting these requirements. This enabled them to reach the desired goals and work towards achieving more holistic vision of governance through creating and implementing a comprehensive, participatory and influential concept on society, which is the concept of smart governance. With the new trend of smart governance, government has become closer to the citizens on the one hand, and able to establish a simultaneous interaction with the society and its economic, social and security components on the other hand. The development of smart sensors and tools that are linked to the Internet, such as security surveillance cameras in cities, climate sensors and energy and electricity consumption meters linked to the government Internet, has enabled the applications of smart governance to create a direct positive impact on the individuals' personal lives.
According to a classification issued by the United Nations in 2020, countries such as Denmark, South Korea, Estonia, Finland, Australia and other countries have made great achievements in the field of e-governance. Among Arab countries, the UAE was ranked 21st globally on the overall UN E-Government Development Index (EGDI) and the first in the Arab world. Furthermore, the UAE was ranked 1st in the Arab, 4th in Asia region and 8th globally on the Online Services Index (OSI). These immense achievements and significant steps were not possible without following an ambitious systematic methodology that is a model to be followed.
However, the roadmap is not full of flowers as lots of challenges are expected. Among these challenges are the overall cultural setting on the country and government levels, government traditional mentality, lack of political leaders understanding and support, and the poor technological infrastructure. Gaining success in e-governance efforts requires a systematic strategy that considers the capabilities of government and the challenges ahead in addition to a lot of efforts to create an appropriate participative climate. Since the wheel of development continues and the future of government is changing, sooner or later, e-governance will be a necessity and a huge demand might be there from the citizens as well as businesses towards more efficient, effective and transparent government.
Dr. Channaganu Paramaiah From Different Corners
The COVID-19 pandemic has spread with alarming speed, affecting millions of people and bringing the global economic activity to a near-standstill because the countries sanctioned tight restrictions on the movement of people to address the spread of the virus. The pandemic badly influenced international trade and tourism. The June 2020 Global Economic Prospects highlighted that the impact of the pandemic has long-term damage to the prospects of growth. The Global Economic Prospects’ baseline study forecasts a 5.2 percent contraction in the global GDP in 2020. In this article, an attempt has been made to highlight some of the implications of the COVID–19 on the global economic growth rates.
The implications of the COVID-19 on the Global Economy from the time when the COVID-19 outbreak was first detected was spread over more than 200 nations. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the global economy adversely affects the economic growth rates of the nations. The estimations showed that COVID -19 could weaken world economic growth by 3.0% to 6.0% in the year 2020. The pandemic raises the risk of a global downturn with the rising levels of unemployment which is not experienced by the nations since the Great Depression of the 1930s. This pandemic also affects international trade by reducing from 13% to 32%, dependent on the seriousness and degree of the global economic recession. International trade and tourism affected the most due to COVID-19.
It is evident from Figure 1 that the economic condition residues highly melted in many countries and regions around the world; it shows that world economic growth tremendously declines in the year 2020 in all the countries. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimated that the growth will decline by 6.0% to 7.6% in 2020, it is based on the spread of second wave of COVID-19 infections (OECD Report on 22nd June 2020). It is also clear from Figure 1, based on the IMF estimations the global economy could drop by 4.9% in 2020. According to IMF, the global economy would experience its “worst recession since the Great Depression”. The IMF projected that UAE’s real GDP growth rate is going to decline to -3.5% for the year 2020. The World Bank’s baseline estimates indicate that global economic growth could shrink by 5.2% in 2020. In similarity, the IMF forecasted a 4.9% decline in the global growth rate in 2020 and will recover the growth by 5.4% in 2021. The World Bank forecasted that economic growth in UAE will decline to 1.1% in 2020 and while the IMF projected UAE growth rate will decline by 3.5%.
The Covid-19 experience shows that it is difficult to estimate the costs of global economic activity. It raises many uncertainties like loss of jobs for workers both temporarily and permanently. Many countries will experience meltdown in economic activities and issues related to tradeoffs between public health and the influence of economic policies to understand the spread of the virus.
McKibbin, W., and R. Fernando. 2020. Macroeconomic Impacts of COVID-19: Seven Scenarios. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.
World Bank. 2020. Global Economic Prospects. World Bank Group Flagship Report, June. Washington, DC: World Bank.
Prof. Sakkthivel Annamalai Manickam Retail and Marketing
The present times made the global business world highly vulnerable and made the companies to face uncertain future. Most of the companies are struggling to survive, and the leading companies are relooking at their strategies and realigning the same to stay alive.
The novel coronavirus outbreak that began in Wuhan, China in December has expanded to touch nearly every corner of the globe—bringing with it widespread quarantine requirements and economic distress. As of September 2020, COVID-19 has caused 902,216 deaths, with approximately 190,869 deaths are from the United States. With society all but entirely upended, it has left a drastic need to push for more education in fields related to science, technology, engineering, and math. Most businesses around the globe will suffer significantly in the aftermath of Covid-19, however, a few sectors will bear a disproportionate impact, of which lending is one. For the lending sector generally and for the Blockchain and Cryptocurrency lending specifically, with several Blockchain and Cryptocurrency start-ups folding-up, the adverse impact is expected to last for a few years. (Banafa, 2020)
Blockchain and Cryptocurrency lending is the use of new and innovative technologies to create new business models to improve and ease lending processes and underwriting. Popular Blockchain and Cryptocurrency lending business models in India include Peer to Peer (P2P), Aggregator/Marketplace, Point of Sale, Direct and Indirect (bank/NBFC partnerships) Lending. It is expected to top USD 1 trillion in lending in the next 3-5 years, generating employment for thousands and contributing significantly to the GDP. (Canesin, 2020)
Blockchain and Cryptocurrency players will have to reshape their business models and build new capabilities. One important aspect will be to create diversified portfolios. This will mean providing new products, entering new customer segments, and new geographies. A well-diversified portfolio may result in lower yields but will enable business sustainability and immunity from external circumstances (Banafa, 2020). This is a potential period for Blockchain and Cryptocurrency lenders to build better technology for underwriting as well. Since traditional data like credit history and banking transactions will no longer be sufficient, off-beat techniques like psychometrics and gamification should be tested for underwriting. (Jones, 2020, 11-12)
Most players focus on technology and centrally managed operations with little or no feet on the ground. This will need to change as physical touchpoints with customers will become important. Blockchain and Cryptocurrency lenders will need to connect with their customers at regular intervals to understand their situation and changed needs. Customers will be looking for a solution to help them ease out of their financial troubles. Blockchain and Cryptocurrency lenders will have to offer several solutions like loan rescheduling, reduction in interest rates, waiving-off late payment charges, converting revolving lines into close-ended products, etc. (Liu and Zhang, 2020)
With Blockchain we can share any transaction/information, real-time, between relevant parties present as nodes in the chain, in a secure and immutable fashion. In this case, had there been a blockchain where WHO, Health Ministry of each country and maybe even relevant nodal hospitals of each country, were connected, sharing real-time information, about any new communicable disease, then the world might have woken up much earlier. We might have seen travel restrictions given sooner, quarantining policies set sooner, and social distancing implemented faster and maybe fewer countries would have got impacted (Liu and Zhang, 2020). Where Blockchain and Cryptocurrency lenders have given loss guarantees, they must offer a guarantee on a higher proportion of assets to build more confidence in their business models. Direct lenders must steadily reduce their debt. It would also be a wise idea for Blockchain and Cryptocurrency lenders to build a rainy-day fund to tide over tough times. The money will need to be in liquid fixed return funds, which means lower yield but will still be a good practice.
- Banafa, Ahmed. 2020. Blockchain Technology and COVID-19. Retrieved from https://www.bbvaopenmind.com/en/technology/digital-world/blockchain-technology-and-covid-19/ on 10 July 2020.
- Canesin, Fábio C. 2020. How COVID-19 Is Impacting Blockchain and Cryptocurrency. Retrieved from https://www.supplychainbrain.com/blogs/1-think-tank/post/31351-the-impact-of-covid-19-on-blockchain-and-cryptocurrency on 10 July 2020.
- Jones, David. 2020. Following COVID-19: How the virus is affecting the mobile payments industry. Blockchain Technology. News Features; Louisville, pp: 11-12.
- Liu, Yang and Zhang, Youtang. 2020. Digital Financial Inclusion and Sustainable Growth of Small and Micro Enterprises—Evidence Based on China’s New Third Board Market Listed Companies. Basel: MDPI AG, volume 12, issue 9, pp: 3733-3750.
Dr. Manas Pradhan From Different Corners
The world has been witnessing the ill effects of the pandemic as seen all over the news. The continuous health crisis has made society look into solutions from various perspectives. Starting from the newsroom to social media, everyone is bounded in some way or another to know the cause, symptoms, remedy, statistics, and major precautions. The technology is not far behind in establishing their positioning in this situation. Whether these entanglements of technology are for business improvement or a solution is difficult to answer – but we are in the 21st century where Technology for Everything rules. Some of the technological advances highlighted below have been used for different purposes during the coronavirus pandemic times.
Bluetooth Contact Tracing:
Bluetooth is used for finding the proximity of patients. The contact tracing applications calculate the distance between two mobile devices. The tracing app uses the Bluetooth features of devices to trace all the people affected in nearby areas. This helps one take precautionary measures as well as help the Government take remedial actions.
Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Devices:
The wearable devices with sensor capabilities are able to extract real-time data of body temperature, respiratory rate of the patient, and other physiological functions. Devices like smart thermometers, smartwatches, fitness trackers, smart headbands, and biosensors patches have been proven to be beneficial.
Telemedicine has helped in lessening the pressure on healthcare professionals and the risk of spreading the virus. The technology that make video consultations, Facebook webinars, and virtual screenings possible have eliminated the need to visit hospitals unless it is an emergency. Many telemedicine platforms like telemedicine carts and consultation software have proven to be useful to a great extent.
Drone Technology and Robots:
Several countries around the world have used drones to stop virus spread. They are using drones to survey crowded areas, delivering public announcements, screening individuals by a thermal camera, carrying essential medical supplies, and sterilization. Drone robots are being deployed to assist in the treatment of patients, surface disinfection, serving food, giving medication, and delivering medical supplies.
Blockchain-based applications are used by the government and organizations to monitor and manage the pandemic by validating changing data associated with citizen/national IDs. The features of blockchain applications such as movement records, hospitalization, travel history, and medications given at different times are provided by collecting the information provided by various medical organizations, public health officials, and other individuals.
GIS and GPS:
GIS and GPS systems use spatial analytics, mapping, and location intelligence to map the transmission behavior of the virus by taking parameters of demographics, environment, and past occurrences. The technology makes it easy to identify high-risk areas as well as connecting and getting information from other regions.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML):
AI, along with ML, has proved to be a landmark technological advancement implemented to predict the risk, medical diagnosis, screening, modeling, and analysis. Machine learning (ML) techniques of supervised and unsupervised learning with statistical data modeling come out with many analytical results to restrict the spread of diseases, predict the fatality rate, and provide information on the availability of treatment. AI, along with ML, determines the probability of survival and the need for ICU treatment for COVID-19 patients. It is used to correlate the patient’s data and predict the effect of the drug on a specific group of patients. AI is used in chemo-informatics to speed up the process of drug development.
Several technological solutions have been proposed for handling the impact of COVID-2019 but still, the operation challenges and data integrity need to be looked into.
Dr. John Senior From Different Corners
In March 2020 students all over the world, including in the UAE, found themselves at home, in lockdown and thrown into online video classes. Stephen Gange of Johns Hopkins University reflects the feelings of many teachers and students about this sudden shift to on-line video lecturing, "we know it's of a different nature from teaching in the classroom” (Murphy, 2019). Gange’s “different nature” clearly reflects the unplanned-for video delivery mode in this new teaching and learning environment. Untrained in video teaching and unfamiliar with online conferencing software, many educators and students found themselves struggling at first in classes taught via on-line conferencing platforms such as Microsoft TEAM, Zoom, Wiz IQ, Blackboard and others; software not specifically designed for online study.
Under such circumstances another quotation, this time from Feilim MacGabhann also of John Hopkins, is perhaps even more appropriate: "Perfection is impossible, so don't strive for that - we're not professional video editors or animators, so if your hand-drawn, squiggly diagrams are OK for the whiteboard, they're OK for an online lecture or discussion" (Murphy, 2019). To date little research had been done on such Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT). However, learning by video has been around long before live video broadcast was considered. It started in the 1940’s in military applications where movie footage was used as a teaching tool. Later, in the 1990’s, the importance and prevalence of video in education changed dramatically once video could be embedded in webpages. Following this, learning management systems (LMS), developed and became distribution platforms facilitating the use of video as a wide-spread educational medium.
These developments mean today’s students have been watching video lectures for years on a wide range of devices including: laptops, tablets, desktops and increasingly smartphones (Villano, 2016); they are the YouTube generation. The advancements in video-conferencing technology along with student experience and familiarity with social media had unintentionally prepared them for the sudden switch to ERT. Such a dramatic change would not have been possible with previous generations or with earlier virtual meeting software. However, further study is needed in a number of areas including: the impact of isolation on students, the effect of the viewing device on student satisfaction with classes, and, in particular, what features a video-lecturing platform should have as opposed to a video-conferencing software.
Hopefully the COVID-19 crisis will be behind us soon. When it is, we should not just return to our old familiar campus ways and forget about what we learned from our (ERT) experience. Instead, we should incorporate this upgraded technology and software experience into our teaching and learning practices. Two key areas we can start with are; first, that video lecturing must become part of educators’ professional development and second, that the education sector needs to define criteria for a dedicated on-line video- teaching platform that is purpose-built with the lessons learned from the COVID-19 experience.