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Pakistan Launches PayPal Payments for Freelancers

Pakistan Launches PayPal Payments

In a recent announcement, Caretaker Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication, Dr. Umar Saif, revealed plans to initiate a pilot project allowing 10,000 Pakistani freelancers to receive payments through PayPal starting in February.

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While the move has been hailed as a success for the country’s freelancers, questions have emerged regarding the prolonged delay in bringing PayPal to Pakistan, especially considering its operational status in numerous other countries.

During the Tech Destination Pakistan event, which coincided with the launch of E-Rozgar Centers, Dr. Umar Saif outlined the pilot project’s timeline, with a broader rollout expected in March, granting access to PayPal and Stripe payments across the nation. The minister clarified that while PayPal itself isn’t directly entering the Pakistani market, an agreement has been established to channel remittances through PayPal via a third party.

The innovative program eliminates the need for freelancers to open a PayPal account, relying on individuals abroad to make payments from their PayPal accounts, subsequently deposited into freelancers’ accounts. Dr. Umar Saif emphasized the government’s efforts to facilitate freelancers by introducing a mechanism for opening bank accounts, with eligibility based on evidence of accounts on platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, Elance, Toptal, or Crossover.

Despite the positive spin put on the announcement, concerns have been raised about the delayed introduction of PayPal in Pakistan. Many countries around the world have long enjoyed the benefits of PayPal, raising questions about why Pakistan has not been able to secure such a service until now.

Moreover, Dr. Umar Saif’s revelation of a 50% dollar retention policy for the IT industry has drawn attention to the potential economic impact and the missed opportunities for freelancers in Pakistan over the years.

The announcement also shed light on the E-Rozgaar centers, part of the government’s strategy to create a conducive environment for freelancers, with over 250 centers planned under a public-private partnership. While the government has hailed these initiatives as steps toward inclusivity in the digital, financial, and economic sectors, some critics argue that these efforts should have been implemented much earlier to keep pace with the global freelance market.

As the pilot project unfolds in the coming months, it remains to be seen how freelancers and the broader community will respond to the newfound access to PayPal, and whether the delay in its introduction will impact the potential benefits for Pakistan’s freelancers.