(CTN News) – Dr. Umar Saif, the Caretaker Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication, announced that discussions are currently in progress with both PayPal and Stripe regarding the potential provision of their services in Pakistan.
In a statement to the media, the IT minister explained that the government’s objective is to persuade PayPal to offer its services in Pakistan through a third-party arrangement, similar to how PayPal operates in Egypt.
He revealed that the ministry has formally requested PayPal to permit Pakistani freelancers to repatriate their earnings to Pakistan via a unidirectional service. Dr. Saif stated that negotiations with PayPal on this matter are scheduled to take place within the next week.
Additionally, the IT minister noted that ongoing discussions with Stripe, another prominent payment processing platform, are also in motion.
Earlier in the month, Caretaker IT Minister Umar Saif expressed his commitment to bringing both PayPal and Stripe to Pakistan.
Furthermore, the IT minister held discussions with officials from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) regarding the proposal to introduce PayPal, Stripe, and Wise to Pakistan.
During these deliberations, matters related to dollar retention accounts and corporate debit cards for IT companies were also addressed, with the aim of facilitating IT firms in retaining and utilizing their foreign exchange reserves more conveniently.
Umar Saif’s Twitter Announcement: PayPal, Stripe, Wise Integration
Umar Saif informed through a post on X formerly Twitter.
- Bring PayPal/Stripe/Wise to Pakistan, to enable freelancers and e-commerce companies to easily get paid.
- Dollar retention accounts and corporate debit cards for IT companies, to enable IT companies to retain and spend their dollars easily.
- Accelerate next stage of RAAST merchant payments (P2M), with a request-to-pay facility.
Very productive meering with the wonderful team at the State Bank. Full steam ahead on three important initiatives:
1. Bring PayPal/Stripe/Wise to Pakistan, to enable freelancers and e-commerce companies to easily get paid.
2. Dollar retention accounts and corporate debit cards… pic.twitter.com/Ejpp7X2mSi
— Umar Saif (@umarsaif) September 1, 2023
His commitment to bringing PayPal, Stripe, and Wise to Pakistan was initially made public when he shared a comprehensive plan for empowering online freelancers in Pakistan on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter).
In his post, he outlined the following roadmap for the online freelancing community in Pakistan:
- Facilitate the entry of PayPal and Stripe into Pakistan.
- Apply a consistent tax rate of 0.25% to online freelancing, aligning it with the IT industry.
- Establish co-working spaces capable of accommodating 500,000 freelancers across Pakistan.
He expressed his optimism by stating, “I believe our online freelancers can generate up to $2.5 billion in revenue within the next two years.”
Dr. Saif unveiled this ambitious roadmap during a ceremony associated with ITCN Asia 2023, aiming to achieve the target of $10 billion in annual exports through four major dimensions.
Our roadmap for online freelancers in Pakistan:
1. Bring PayPal and Stripe
2. Treat online freelancing at the same tax rate as IT industry: 0.25%
3. Create co-working spaces for 500,000 freelancers in Pakistan.
I believe our online freelancers can earn up to $2.5 Billion…
— Umar Saif (@umarsaif) August 31, 2023
Anticipated Launch Timelines for PayPal, Wise, and Stripe in Pakistan:
The caretaker government in Pakistan is formed for a duration of either 60 or 90 days, primarily to ensure transparent elections in the country.
The current government, to which Dr. Saif is affiliated, has a constitutional tenure of 90 days, as the National Assembly was dissolved shortly before its term was set to expire.
The first possibility is that the IT minister, driven by his determination to enhance Pakistan’s tech sector, may endeavor to secure the launch of PayPal, Wise, and Stripe in Pakistan during the 90-day tenure of the interim government.
However, the interim government’s tenure may extend beyond the initial 90 days due to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) deciding to conduct a fresh delimitation of constituencies using a new digital census, a process that could span several months.
The chief election commissioner recently stated that the ECP has set a target to complete the delimitation process by December 14, 2023, suggesting that elections would likely be held in the following year.
This grants the “strongest-ever” caretaker cabinet, in terms of its capabilities, more time to implement its policies.
Therefore, the second potential launch date for PayPal, Wise, and Stripe in Pakistan could be in the early months of 2024. The timing of their launch will be influenced by the prevailing political situation in the country.