No evidence to support accusations in ATM theft article

Aug 10th, 2011 | By | Category: Jang, The News

We missed this article in The News when it was published on 5 August, but it was brought to our attention by dear reader Xeeshan. After shaking our heads in disbelief, we decided that it was an excellent example of the type of poor reporting and sensationalism that is too prevalent in media even on topics other than politics.

The headline of the article, ‘ATM software company milking bank accountholders’, should immediately get the attention of anyone who does not have so much money that they do not ever pay attention to their.

Jawwad RizviThe reporter, Jawwad Rizvi, fills his article with false information and conclusions that are not supported by the facts. For example, he says that “All proprietary means that the software is not compliant to ISO standards that are adopted globally by all the financial institutions”.

This is not true. ‘All proprietary’ means that the company which created the product claims all rights to its intellectual property – in this case the software code that runs TPS computer programme – and does not make this code publicly available. Software can be both proprietary and compliant to ISO standards such as Microsoft’s Office software.

Rizvi then says that because the software is proprietary, banks are not allowed to “even touch the machines that this software is installed on”. But he said before that “ATMs in Pakistan are run by a computer programme provided by TPS”. If he is correct, this means that banks are not allowed to touch their own ATMs. These banks must be very surprised to learn this!

Jawwad Rizvi then jumps from these factual errors to making outright claims of criminal activity on the part of TPS.

“TPS is stealing a huge amount of money on a daily basis from bank accountholders”.

Rizvi has no proof that TPS is stealing from bank accountholders. Rather, he offers a scenario that could happen.

Hundreds of thousands of ATM transactions are made every day. If a virus or special code takes out just one paisa for each transaction, the account holders obviously cannot suspect any wrongdoing. But the company manages to steal a huge amount of money in this way every day from bank accounts.

In other words, the plot of the movie ‘Office Space’.

Meanwhile, Michael and Samir are downsized, seemingly a symptom of the disposability with which the consultants view most Initech employees. To exact revenge on Initech, the three friends decide to infect the accounting system with a computer virus, designed to divert fractions of pennies into a bank account they control.

Rizvi returns to contradicting his own reporting. When he earlier wrote that “banks and ATM switches like 1Link are not allowed to check, audit or see the software code or even touch the machines that this software is installed on”, Rizvi later writes that “This “system” has been put in place by 1LINK’s initial founders and board and is still prevalent due to the extraordinary bribes paid by TPS to board members of 1LINK”.

Which is it? Can 1LINK not even touch the machines? Or is 1LINK installing the software themself?

When Jawwad Rizvi earlier wrote that “TPS has complete monopoly in this area of business”, he later writes that “Besides TPS, there are other companies like Euronet and Avanza who are providing similar solutions to banks in Pakistan”.

Which is it? TPS has complete monopoly or there are other companies that provide similar solutions to banks in Pakistan?

In addition to accusing TPS of stealing, Jang Group‘s reporter also accuses everyone and their brother of taking bribes including banks’ IT deparments, board members of 1LINK, and even State Bank officials. What is the evidence behind these accusations of criminal conduct? Jawwad Rizvi has none.

The reporter than spoke to an official at SBP who told him that they had received no complaint from any bank, and that “the indicated possibilities of collusion hardly merit an answer”.

Armed with several factual inaccuracies and no evidence, Jang Group‘s reporter Jawwad Rizvi accuses many individuals of criminal activity including stealing and bribe taking. It remains to be seen if any of the accused will file a report against publishing this material, or if Jang Group‘s credibility has sunk so low that it is determined as not even necessary.

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