‘PayPal is coming to Pakistan?’ check expected launch date

It’s a time for celebrations for Pakistani freelancers, who have been complaining about unavailability of Paypal, an online payment system that allows its users to send and receive money around the world, since long.

The reason for suggesting celebrations to the freelancers is latest statement of caretaker Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Dr Umar Saif, who has expressed resolve to bring “PayPal and Stripe to Pakistan”.

Saif, one of the best techies in the country, shared a roadmap for online freelancers in Pakistan on social media platform X, formerly Twitter. He wrote, “Our roadmap for online freelancers in Pakistan:

Bring PayPal and Stripe
Treat online freelancing at the same tax rate as IT industry: 0.25%
Create co-working spaces for 500,000 freelancers in Pakistan.
“I believe our online freelancers can earn up to $2.5 Billion within the next 2 years!” he said.

The IT minister unveiled the roadmap to achieve the target of $10 billion in annual exports through four major dimensions at a ceremony related to ITCN Asia 2023.

He stated that the annual IT export could be increased to $3.5 billion by providing confidence to IT companies to retain their exports income in special accounts of Pakistan banks rather than offshore offices in different countries.

The ministry, through a partnership with the private sector, will train 100,000 software developers to enhance the exports by $2 billion per annum, which will translate the export values to $5.5 billion.

In this regard, he said, various training programmes and boot camps would be organized to build the capacity of university graduates in accordance with in-demand skills of the IT industry.

The training initiative would even provide jobs to thousands of graduates in the country who would support themselves and their families, he added.

Dr Umar Saif further said that Pakistanis were the second largest online workforce community in the world, however, revenues earned by them were reflected in remittances of overseas Pakistanis because of the unavailability of the international payment gateway, Paypal.

The facilitation of freelancers through a global payment gateway and easy account facility would also enhance exports by another $2 billion, he added.

The freelancers, he said, were being empowered with training in different skills, but an ecosystem and workstations were equally vital for them to enhance their contribution to exports of IT and IT-enabled services.

He said the government, in collaboration with the private sector, would create space on 5,000 points in different cities for freelancers.

“Besides, the tax rate on the income of freelancers is extremely high, which should be equalized to the tax rate of the IT industry at 0.25%. Hence, the rising trend of the Gig economy can also be facilitated in Pakistan.”

PayPal expected launch date in Pakistan
The caretaker setup in Pakistan is established for period of 60 days or 90 days for holding transparent elections in the country. The constitutional tenure for current government, to which Dr Saif is attached, is 90 days as the National Assembly was dissolved days before its tenure ends.

The first possibility is that the IT minister, who is eager to boost the Pakistan’s tech sector, would try to make the launch of PayPal in Pakistan during the 90 days tenure of the interim government.

However, the tenure of the interim setup is likely to go beyond the 90 days as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has decided to hold fresh delimitation of constituencies under the new digital census. The process could take months.

The chief election commissioner in a recent statement said that the ECP has said a target to conclude delimitation by December 14, 2023. It means the elections would be held next year, giving more time to the “strongest ever [in terms of ability]” caretaker cabinet to execute its policies.

So, the second possible launch date would be early months of 2024.

The PayPal launch in Pakistan can vary depending on the political situation in the country

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