Don’t be so sure of PayPal coming to Pakistan

Written by Asadullah Babar ·  2 min read >

Have you recently heard (or reheard) about PayPal coming to Pakistan. I think we need to approach this news with a lot of skepticism.

Why do I want you to be skeptical? For starters, we’ve been hearing this since the early 2010s. After every 6 to 8 months a new article resurfaces trying to give Pakistani IT and Freelancers community hope for something that is not even in serious consideration by the company’s executives.

If PayPal is always coming to Pakistan, what is taking so long? Well. I’ll break down the leaks in the process for you.

Problem 1: Assumption: PayPal is dying to come to Pakistan

As Pakistanis, our national favorite game (apart from leg-pulling) is living around untested assumptions. Everyone here has been assuming that PayPal is trying super hard to come to Pakistan. And while it’s good to be hopeful, there are not many solid reasons it’d be working hard. If someone asks you “Why does PayPal want to come to Pakistan?”, you can come up with excuses like:

  • We’re the 5th largest country in the world in terms of population. Well. Yes. But are we so good in digital transactions? Do we have a trillion-dollar eCommerce Store? Do we keep most of our money in digital format?
  • We’re so close to India, PayPal is in India too. We’re no way close to India in terms of Payments. Have you heard about Flipkart? SnapDeal? Do you know the size of these marketplaces and eCommerce Stores?

And many more.. The point is, we should not be so sure about PayPal executives actually seriously wanting to come to Pakistan.

PROBLEM 2: Lack of understanding of ‘we are thinking about…’ statements

Most of the PayPal related news outbreaks come from a ‘Pakistanis’ interaction with a PayPal employee, or an ambiguous statement at a random event when a Pakistani throws the question: are you thinking about coming to Pakistan?

The problem with these statements is that they’re based upon… well… nothing much to be honest. If you ever ask any company if they’re considering or open to XYZ markets or products, there is a high chance they will not shut the door straight up and say ‘No’. They will always say they are open and will consider it soon when the time is right. This is like how we see off some relatives.

Us: Do visit us soon.
Them: Sure.

This never happens, because none of you actually meant it. This is what is wrong with our conversations with PayPal executives. We ask ambiguous questions and post them up like they’re part of a grand plan.

PROBLEM 3: Underestimating the amount of time it’ll actually take to bring PayPal to Pakistan

When you ask an executive if they think it can bring PayPal to Pakistan by next 6 or 12 months, they’re likely to say ‘it is possible’. But that definitely does not mean this is the estimated time. Even if PayPal decides to come to Pakistan, it is unlikely that it’ll happen within 4 months as reported by the recently surfaced article involving statement from Asad Umar. There are a lot of processes which needs to be settled, PayPal needs to :

  • modify and agree to Govt. policies,
  • find a way around Pakistan’s taxations,
  • get proper registrations with Govt. bodies,
  • setup local support,
  • create language support,
  • other technical reasons.

This can be done within months if PayPal and Pakistani authorities put ‘bringing it to Pakistan’ on top of their lists… but there’s lack of credible track record of the government to believe that is going to happen (timely, at least).

Let me know if you disagree and think we should get our hopes up (again!).