PayPal and Stripe are coming to Pakistani freelancers

Pakistani freelancers have reason to celebrate as they’ve long lamented the absence of PayPal, a global online payment system facilitating money transfers.

The cause for celebration arises from a recent statement by caretaker Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication, Dr. Umar Saif, who has expressed his commitment to bring both “PayPal and Stripe to Pakistan.”

Dr. Saif’s Roadmap for Pakistani Freelancers

Dr. Saif, recognized as one of the country’s leading tech experts, shared his vision for Pakistan’s online freelancers on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter). He outlined a comprehensive roadmap, which includes:

  1. Bringing PayPal and Stripe: This is the pivotal step in enabling freelancers to access international payment gateways.
  2. Equalizing Tax Rates: The plan proposes to treat online freelancing with the same tax rate as the IT industry, set at a modest 0.25%.
  3. Creating Co-Working Spaces: A significant initiative is to establish co-working spaces for half a million freelancers across Pakistan.

Dr Saif’s ambitious goal is to empower online freelancers to collectively earn up to $2.5 billion within the next two years.

The roadmap was unveiled as part of the strategy to achieve the target of $10 billion in annual exports, presented at an event linked to ITCN Asia 2023.

Dr Saif emphasized the potential to increase annual IT exports to $3.5 billion by encouraging IT companies to retain export income in special accounts within Pakistan, rather than offshore offices.

Additionally, the government plans to partner with the private sector to train 100,000 software developers, aiming to boost exports by $2 billion annually, ultimately reaching $5.5 billion.

Dr Saif stressed the importance of building the capacity of university graduates through training programs and boot camps, highlighting the potential for job creation for thousands of graduates in the IT sector.

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He also pointed out that Pakistan boasts the world’s second-largest online workforce community but lacks an international payment gateway like PayPal. Facilitating freelancers through such a gateway and providing easy account access could potentially increase exports by another $2 billion.

To further support freelancers, the government, in collaboration with the private sector, intends to establish 5,000 workstations across different cities, recognizing the significance of a conducive ecosystem.

In addition to these efforts, Dr Saif  “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 anticipated launch of PayPal in Pakistan hinges on the duration of the interim government. If the interim setup’s tenure extends beyond the initial 90 days due to the digital census and delimitation process, the launch may potentially occur in early 2024.

In essence, Pakistani freelancers have reason to be optimistic about the future, as Dr Saif’s roadmap outlines a comprehensive plan to empower and facilitate their growth in the digital economy while also addressing key issues such as taxation and infrastructure. The timeline for PayPal’s launch may be influenced by the evolving political situation in the country.