Finance Minister Asad Umar has said that he has given four months to the IT ministry to convince PayPal to come to Pakistan.
The US-based financial services company is an online money transfer system used by individuals and businesses to make payments. For example, a consumer can purchase his favourite book from Amazon.com if he has a PayPal account. However, the services were not available in Pakistan.
He said that he asked the IT ministry to form a task force, and even suggested names for it. Umar says he has told the minister to either convince PayPal to come to Pakistan or work on launching a home-grown online payment system.
The minister is even willing to meet PayPal CEO, and convince him to come.
If PayPal comes to Pakistan it will facilitate about 2,00,000 freelancers, who earn more than $500 million. These freelancers currently use non-banking (informal) channels to receive payments.
Since the government is targeting $10 billion in IT exports by 2025, this platform will remove one of the hurdles facing the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry. Similarly, e-commerce industry will also benefit because of both traders and consumers. The company operates in 190 markets across the world.
However, Pakistan’s intention to bring PayPal may not be enough.
The previous government had expressed its intention to invite PayPal. Their optimism stemmed from the fact that Pakistan was removed from FATF’s grey list and was placed on its whitelist. However, Pakistan has once again been placed on the grey list of the multilateral body that combats money laundering and terrorist financing.
Pakistan will have to get off the list, provide supporting infrastructure, and regulatory framework to attract a name as big as PayPal.
The government will need to have the necessary legal and financial regulatory framework in place before expecting PayPal to enter the Pakistani market.
The country’s history with internet companies has been strenuous. Youtube was banned for more than three years, and cellular services are suspended every now and then. The country lacks bilateral or mutual legal assistance treaties for cybercrime-related cooperation too.