For many years now – I have been writing to the CEO/President of PayPal and their parent company Ebay, asking then why they are not present in Pakistan. Despite all the communication via email, faxes, and letters that I dispatch every year, I have never managed to solicit a reply from them. Not even a squeak.
Today, many campaigns are afoot on the Internet in the hopes of getting PayPal’s attention and getting them to come to Pakistan.
Some people are supposedly even in touch with PayPal through their Far East office, London office or US office. Some have claimed to have met them, each vying to bring PayPal to Pakistan. In some minor cases, some of these elements are just not playing fair and present a fair picture to PayPal. They do so because they want to do business with PayPal and get paid for it (hint: law firms), others want accolades, etc. Just for the record, I want none. I just want them to be here.
Today, people fly to Singapore,Dubai, London and even the US to open a bank account just so that they can have a PayPal account.
Most of the activity that is done on PayPal on behalf of Pakistan is done so by what I call Acquaintance-PayPaling! – i.e. using the PayPal account of your brother, sister, uncle, niece, cousin, friend, relative, associate, etc.
Coming back to topic – the present situation is – we still do not have PayPal in Pakistan. Rumor mills are abound with the reasons why PayPal is not in Pakistan. I will not go there, but perhaps try to address what in my opinion I believe is stopping PayPal from coming to Pakistan.
PayPal as you know operates in quite a few countries. In our immediate region, i.e. South Asia, large economies like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, etc. do not have PayPal, yet countries like Rwanda, Botswana, Fiji, Panama, Sierra Leone, Tonga and Zambia have access to PayPal.
Even Yemen and Somalia have access to Paypal.
Is this fair? Certainly not!
PayPal’s reluctance to operate in Pakistan is due to Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist activities.
It is also rumored (I cannot confirm this), that there is a strong Indian lobby, that very tactfully yet and with sane reasoning positions Pakistan as a country which PayPal best avoids, despite the numbers that work in favor for PayPal to operate here.
No one – on their own wants to take ownership within PayPal and convince the New Business Development Department and the Legal team that Pakistan holds the potential of a very strong market for PayPal.
Having said this, there are some genuine people in PayPal who are literally fighting a case for Pakistan. I wish them good luck and request that they read on what I have written below.
So to summarize:
- PayPal wants to do business in Pakistan, but are hesitant due to AML and for it (PayPal services) to possibly be used for terrorist activities.
- People in Pakistan desperately want PayPal.
There are three concerning bodies in Pakistan that PayPal needs to get in touch with:
- State Bank of Pakistan (the central bank of Pakistan)
- Pakistan Remittance Initiative – a semi-autonomous body within SBP that is focused on inward remittances and how to legalize them, and provide better KYC, etc.
- FMU – Financial Monitoring Unit – the AML arm of SBP.
In an unofficial capacity I can state, that all three are willing to talk to PayPal and pacify and address their concerns which prevents them from operating in Pakistan.
Especially PRI – the folks at PRI are more than willing to sit and listen to PayPal and advice them of our laws that we have in place and to correct any misconceptions that they might have with respect to Pakistan. They can help you get PayPal services rolled out at a National level – and under a one-window operation for PayPal.
PRI is the most pertinent body that can help PayPal and will guide you if you need a banking license or a money-exchange license, how to get incorporated (if required by SECP) how to get integrated with the two ATM switch operators in Pakistan: 1Link and MNet – I’m very sure PRI will also help PayPal with any Tax related issues / consultation with the Tax Authorities (i.e. FBR).
Sitting in a cubicle in California – things are a whole lot different when Pakistan is viewed as a potential country to do business with. It would be conniving of PayPal not to get in touch with PRI / SBP / FMU – all three which operate under the auspices of Ministry of Finance and have the hurdles addressed.
Sitting in Pakistan, you cannot fathom our disbelief that we are blatantly being ignored by PayPal – the silence to all the communication/campaigns is deafening.
10+ years of PayPal and no service in Pakistan is just not fair to the 20 million internet users here. We are NOT a camel country! We don’t have sand dunes and people sitting in huts squatting flies. We are not running around naked in sewers begging for water. We do have almost all the conceivable luxuries and infrastructure that is prevalent out in the West. Especially digital infrastructure.
For god’s sake, stop being obtuse PayPal and open your eyes!
For good order’s sake – study us, and do your homework. We are the largest Non-Nato partner for the US in this war against terror. You really think that terrorist networks are only existing in Pakistan? they are all over the world – including UK, Germany, France, Somalia, Yemen, Rwanda, South Africa, Canada, countries where you operate. And please, do not associate the word terrorist with “Islam” or “Muslim” god knows how many home grown terrorist organizations are out there. Juxtaposing such labels on Pakistan is unfair, uncalled for and plain myopic business attitude. Radical white supremacist are gaining numbers everyday in Germany and Austria and UK, do you not consider them when you do business there? India has its own share of problems as far as terrorist organizations are concenred – including the Indian Maoist movement known as the Naxalites, but that does not stop PayPal from operating there now does it? So please think rationally when it comes to Pakistan and stop generalizing and compartmentalizing us.
Pakistani individuals and small businesses are making great strides on freelancing portals (like Elance, oDesk, RentaCoder, etc.) and other web outsourcing platforms where they deliver fantastic services.
The very least PayPal can do – is to get in touch with the right institutions here in Pakistan and work with them to have their issues addressed. Until and unless PayPal will not take the first step, the Government of Pakistan and its institutions are helpless, not to mention the 20 million Internet users and the nearing 100 million cellphone users. We as citizens can only do our digital protest in the hopes we get your attention – the walk you must walk!
If anyone in PayPal is reading this, please get in touch with myself, at fk (at) faisalkhan (dot) com and I shall duly put you in touch with the three institutions I mentioned. I do with without any self-servicing agenda or motive. I too like everyone else would like PayPal to be present in Pakistan.
Its been too long for us not to have PayPal and you have it within yourselves, the power, the will and determination to change that for the 20 million Internet users in Pakistan.
"Hope is not a dream but a way of making dreams become reality."
– L. J. Suenens