Security and confidence

From the earliest years, I was sure that the basic tenet of life was to be a good person

Continent Shaikha Dheya Al-Khalifa

 

Why is it so important that a place for heroic deeds remain in the world? The names of hundreds and thousands of heroes, having sacrificed themselves to save someone’s life, having given their lives or health rescuing total strangers, will appear for just a moment in the endless news flow and then be forgotten. Why is it so important that in the world there is always room for disinterested help and kindness without claiming reward? Perhaps, this is the only thing that allows us all to hope for the best. Perhaps, once faced with an example of unselfishness and courage, we anew discover for ourselves the sense of integrity and durability of the world. In this issue of «The World» Shaikha Dheya bint Ebrahim Al Khalifa explains to us the concept of business ethics and describes the evaluation criteria of this elusive characteristic.

Each day in the news, we see the world full of poverty, destruction, and disaster. We see the pain of many people, injustice, war. It is easy to lose faith in humanity following these events, so I believe that it is of prime importance to look at those who selflessly sacrifice themselves for the sake of others. When I was a child, I saw two men who rushed to save a drowning family with children. They did not know these individuals, they just saved them. One of the men died. For me, this has become a demonstration of how many people are ready to do something good. They do good deeds simply because it is right — social origin, religion, and prosperity do not matter, nor does the people’s country of origin. And, while there are still good people on the earth, each of us has hope.

From the earliest years, I was sure that the basic tenet of life was to be a good person, so that your activities would not do harm to anyone. Formerly, when I started my business, I thought that good acts, honest and lawful conduct of business, providing advice and services of the highest quality, would be enough for success. As time went by, it indeed proved to be necessary, but not always enough. When doing business, the larger and more complex the deal is, the more you have to think through security and consider both observance of the laws and liability for possible variants of development.

In mergers and acquisitions, especially on the international level, problems often arise due to cultural differences, even after the successful conclusion of the transaction. When I speak about possible scenarios of events, I refer not only to the prediction of various impacts that may occur or to different problems’ solutions, but also to the need for strategic planning. We need experience, knowledge, and special attention to national and cultural differences, so that international transactions can bring long-term benefits to all participants.

The same applies to the implementation of new solutions, for example, in banking. Here, the main points are confidence and security. The vulnerability to hacker attacks hinders the development of Bitcoin, the alternative currency, in many ways. So, I suppose that, in the near future, we will see more and more investments in IT security, i. e. in developing appropriate technologies which can respond to any cyber-attacks. I think that, as a new financial platform, Bitcoin has its advantages, prior to those that are already present in the market, developing or trying to imitate Bitcoin’s idea. Bitcoin, however, is not very active in trading, but it provides an example that clearly shows that the system develops differently in different cultural contexts.

 Japan recognises Bitcoin as a legal method of payment; in China, it is allowed for individuals and forbidden to companies; in Russia, it is completely prohibited; and in Singapore, Bitcoin deals are taxed. You cannot open a letter of credit (LC) in Bitcoin or close any big deal with a multi-million contract, even in the case of intergovernmental agreements. They do not use Bitcoin for such operations yet.

Concluding the topic of Bitcoin: talking about investing in this or similar financial platforms, we need to remember that stereotypes and snap judgments can lead to devastating consequences.

In general, stereotypes rarely work in the modern world. For example, one might expect that mobile payments will become popular primarily in countries with developed banking infrastructure, since all new things, according to theory, spread faster in wealthier countries. In fact, mobile payments do not grow rapidly enough, for example, in our region, where almost everyone has a bank account and everyone has free access to ATMs. On the contrary, you can observe the frequent usage of mobile payments in countries without enough ATMs, or lacking bank branches altogether, like in remote regions, in small towns, or some places in Africa. For example, at present, Kenya is using M-Wallet. Actually, it is very interesting to see how, in Africa, cell phones are used to retrieve money, to pay for things, even to transfer funds to much more developed countries.

I believe that the introduction of new technologies can be difficult in areas such as health and education, but it will certainly help to increase access to quality facilities and services. We should not think that people around us live only in big cities. It should be understood that many people live far from cities and they, by the way, may not have access to essential medical care. The solution can be found in the implementation of remote consultation systems involving highly-qualified specialists and interactive services for doctors, where colleagues can be consulted, and with mobile applications for monitoring patients’ physical conditions.

It may seem at first glance that new technologies are too expensive for those who need them most. Thus, at the beginning of the era of mobile communication, many believed that it was suitable only for military needs. Many believed that, besides that, it would be accessible only to a very narrow circle of people, never to reach impoverished communities, especially those in remote corners of the world. Nevertheless, it did not take long, and, in some countries, there now stands a mobile phone penetration of more than 100% of the population, with people even having two or three phones at a time. For example, even in India (I recently read a report on this), the poorest sections of society have mobile phones, no matter how poor they are. The cell phone has become an integral part of our lives. It keeps us in touch with the family, and we use it for work. Furthermore, it gives free access to information and services that can improve people’s quality of life.

So, when asking ourselves about how to determine and predict the usefulness and ethics of one or another business or technology, we need to consider whether people’s lives are made safer, more comfortable, and better, in all respects.