David A. Marcus
2211 North First Street
Subject: PayPal for Pakistan
Dear Mr Marcus:
For a little over 10 years now, I have been writing to the President/CEO of PayPal every January asking Why isn’t PayPal available in Pakistan? For 11 years straight, I have never received an official reply. Not once.
Pakistan has been shunned by PayPal for many years now. Unofficial reasoning has been plentiful and speculative at best, so I will not delve into it. My goal here is two folds:
(a). Provide a little bit of statistical information about Pakistan
(b). To help PayPal connect with the right audience (Financial Regulators, Banks, etc.) to enable them to operate here in Pakistan.
Pakistan in brief:
- Is a country of 180+ Million people.
- That puts us as the 6th most populous country in the world.
- Our overall Tele Density stands at 72%,
- Mobile Tele Density at 68.8%.
- Current number of Cellular Users is 121+ Million.
- The number of Internet Users in Pakistan 29+ Million
- Facebook users are 8+ Million.
- Banking-wise, Pakistan has made great strides. Currently their are about 16+ Million users with ATM/Debit Cards
- Roughly 5,800 ATMs in the country
- 35,000+ POS Machines
- 9,300 Real-Time Online Bank Branches.
- On Branchless Banking, Pakistan’s numbers are soaring. At present we have about 1.8 Million users who are using Branchless Banking, with quarterly growth at about 25%.
We are by no means a market that is small, under-developed or not connected. We have ATM switches allowing you to do an instant Inter-Bank Funds Transfer (debit/credit) to any bank account in Pakistan (API is offered for this). Almost all the banks offer real-time KYC and AML checks (APIs available for this as well). Despite what you may read in the media, the country is flourishing and business accumen and entrepreneurial spirits are high.
We have an active Internet population (more than the total population of Australia and New Zealand combined), and yet we are deprived of PayPal, whilst countries like Rwanda, Botswana, Fiji, Panama, Sierra Leone, Tonga and Zambia have access to PayPal.
Our economy is much larger than Bhutan, Chad, Honduras, Somalia, Maldives, Rwanda, Uganda, Yemen —combined! – Yet these countries are considered privileged enough to have PayPal, and Pakistan is not.
To put it simply: This is unfair.
I have read a lot about you, on Quora, and various other forums. How you are changing the culture at PayPal. This was enough to give me and my fellow citizens a glimmer of hope, that maybe you will honestly look at our case and communicate with us to help a dream become a reality… of having PayPal in Pakistan.
My credentials on Quora will testify that I am reasonably versed in Money & Payment Systems. I am cognisant that institutions like yours look acutely at issues like AML, KYC and other Legal & Compliance hurdles. I want to assure you, the financial regulator in Pakistan, i.e. State Bank of Pakistan will work with you to address your concerns (if any).
To the best of my knowledge nothing prevents PayPal (from a regulatory, technology or legal point of view from Pakistan’s side) for PayPal to operate here. The $64 Million question is – Why doesn’t PayPal operate here in Pakistan then?
If there are concerns within PayPal of terrorist funding, etc., then please note, that this is an issue globally not just in Pakistan.
Drug and Terrorist Financing issues are more prevalent in the West than in Pakistan (I can provide you various reports and references as published by the Senate Committees in the US and other US based institutions). Since the mechanism of PayPal payments is electronic, governed, KYC’d at both ends and monitored, there exists (in my opinion) an operable framework by which you can operate here and work with the relevant financial regulators and lawmakers to have PayPal officially launched and covered in Pakistan.
In summary, I would request you to open a dialogue, to ascertain the ground realities in Pakistan vis-a-vis to Factually Incorrect Information. I have in the past cited my willingness to help, providing information or getting PayPal connected to Banks, regulators, whomsoever you would like to meet and/or talk to. I am, in no way proposing or advocating a ‘role’ for myself – my intention is just to help you connect with the right people/institutions.
I hope you will give this issue of PayPal not being in Pakistan a genuine effort to reassess our case. I am hopeful that in PayPal’s point of view, Pakistan’s time has come to join the list of countries where PayPal is offered.
You may contact me via faisal @ ibfsinc.com or alternatively, may inbox me on Quora.
References: Pakistan Telecommunity Authority: Telecom Indicators.
Asia Internet Usage Stats. State Bank of Pakistan: Payment Systems Review (Apr/Jun 2012) (PDF). State Bank of Pakistan: Branchless Banking Newsletter (Jul/Sep 2012) (PDF).