Paypal in Bangladesh –a reality years in the making

Staff Correspondent
Thursday, October 12th, 2017


The wait is finally over. October 19 is the date when, after much speculation, trials and tribulations, Paypal will finally commence their operations in Bangladesh. This was confirmed by State Minister for ICT, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, who also told reporters that Paypal’s services will be available at nine banks including Sonali Bank and Rupali Bank. Information and Communication Technology Adviser to the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Sajeeb Wazed Joy is slated to inaugurate the service on the second day of the ICT Expo-2017, as per media reports.


PayPal requires little introduction in any conversation or reference when the topic at hand is online transactions. It is—among many things—a virtual bank with over 210 million active accounts (as of last month, reports online statistics portal Statista), a robust system of exchange that allows users to pay and get paid regardless of geographic and/or time limitations, and is a prime proponent of the increasing preference for electronic money over traditional cash and checks.


Since its acquisition in late 2002 by the e-commerce giant, e-bay, PayPal is actively used in over 190 countries across the globe with local operations in 21 nations.


‘The internet’ remains a by-word for connectivity for some but, many within our populace have found means of capitalising on the very vista of web-based business opportunities. Data suggests that there are over 100,000 individuals who supplement their incomes with internationally outsourced work. There are programmers, designers, and coders creating applications for the web and mobile platforms, writers and editors contributing quality content to international publications, photographers and image editors enriching their global portfolio, and data handlers and analysts aiding in data entry, mining, and management. All of these talented, forward thinking individuals were however perpetually handicapped by PayPal’s absence and the costs associated with obtaining and maintaining international credit card(s).


Many had opted for alternatives with services such as MoneyBookers or Alertpay while others have chosen to have friends or family living abroad open up PayPal accounts in their name. The former has proven only marginally popular with outsourcers since most of the industry deals with and primarily relies on PayPal. The latter undertaking is a risky venture with control of funds going to someone else and money withdrawal difficulties arise.


Although the Indian market has been a tumultuous one for PayPal with constant back and forth between their management and the Indian central bank (RBI), the country’s IT sector has still flourished with outsourcing work acting as a major catalyst in its socio-economic evolution. Indians can now use PayPal to get paid, then transfer their money to local banks or spend it on products and services online if their accounts are linked to local banks. The RBI has ensured national participation in the phenomenal growth of internet money exchange by leveraging internet usage in India. Though the stricter guidelines were met with distressed outcries from the outsourcing community, media, and PayPal supporters, the number of cards in circulation and PayPal user base have both skyrocketed since.


To put this into a Bangladeshi context, the remittance dollars being underutilized (due to the absence of PayPal) is ranges between taka 30,000 to 100,000 a month (as per spendable income estimates). Furthermore, entrepreneurial efforts that deal with foreign trade in small to medium volumes had been bottlenecked by the lack of PayPal services and the IT sector till now.


A well crafted set of guidelines and alignment with local commercial banks could ensure the firm’s transparent operations. This simple facilitation would go a long way in dispelling the doubts harbored against PayPal and put international entities such as e-bay and Amazon within our reach in the near future.

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