KARACHI: State Bank of Pakistan Governor Jameel Ahmed has said that the unprecedented volume of data generated by digital devices underscores the potential of effective data utilisation in contributing to sustained economic growth.

He stated this while delivering an inaugural speech at the SaarcFinance Seminar on the ‘Potential Role of Big Data in Economic Policy’ on Wednesday.

The event, held in Islamabad, brought together distinguished delegates, subject matter experts, and esteemed speakers from the Saarc region to discuss the impact and implications of big data in shaping economic policies.

“The unprecedented volume of data generated by digital devices underscores the potential of effective data utilisation in contributing to sustained economic growth, societal welfare, poverty reduction, and improved living standards across the diverse Saarc region,” said the SBP governor.

He explained the growing role of big data in central banking, financial inclusion and how the SBP is incorporating its analysis into policymaking.

He shared specific examples of how the central bank uses big data analytics for economic analysis, leveraging satellite imagery data, and harnessing the power of machine learning algorithms for fraud detection and prevention.

Mr Ahmed highlighted the legal and regulatory challenges related to privacy and confidentiality. He called for strong data protection laws and underscored the importance of addressing the current costs associated with technological infrastructure and skilled human resources.

The SBP chief called upon Saarc member nations to collaborate in building a data-driven ethos in the region, ensuring inclusive benefits and responsive policies. He expressed optimism that multilateral and regional economic bodies, such as Saarc, could play a crucial role in setting industry standards and regulatory best practices for the adoption of big data analytics.

The seminar featured distinguished policy and market experts from reputable organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, International Finance Corporation, Arab Monetary Fund, Meta, Google, and the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

The seminar also featured keynote speeches by PBS Chief Statistician Dr Naeem Uz Zafar, IFC’s digital finance expert Matthew Sal, ex-governor SBP Dr Ishart Husian and other renowned public policy experts.

The speakers discussed opportunities, recent experiences, and potential use cases of big data in Pakistan and the Saarc region.

Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2024

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