Gitex Global: Is PayPal coming to Pakistan? Minister responds

These payment gateways are crucial for the companies that provide services to foreign companies for financial transactions

by

Waheed Abbas

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Dr Umar Saif, caretaker Federal Minister for IT and telecommunications in Pakistan, and Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, Ambassador of Pakistan to the UAE, during the inauguration of Pakistan Pavilion at Gitex Global at World Trade Centre Dubai on Monday (Supplied)
Dr Umar Saif, caretaker Federal Minister for IT and telecommunications in Pakistan, and Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, Ambassador of Pakistan to the UAE, during the inauguration of Pakistan Pavilion at Gitex Global at World Trade Centre Dubai on Monday (Supplied)

Published: Mon 16 Oct 2023, 6:17 PM

Last updated: Mon 16 Oct 2023, 8:07 PM

Pakistan government is in talks with payment gateways PayPal and Stripe to help IT professionals and freelancers transfer their funds to the South Asian country, said a senior official on Monday.

These payment gateways are crucial for the Pakistani companies that provide IT services to foreign companies and freelancers to transfer their hard-earned funds to their accounts in Pakistan. These gateways currently don’t provide this service to Pakistani firms and professionals.

“The biggest challenge for IT professionals and freelancers is to bring money into Pakistan. So we need companies like PayPal, Stripe and other entities. We are pursuing them and have submitted a business case,” Dr Umar Saif, caretaker Federal Minister for IT and telecommunications in Pakistan, told Khaleej Times in an interview on the sidelines of the Gitex Global at Dubai World Trade Centre. From October 16 to 20, more than 6,000 local, regional and international companies and start-ups are exhibiting their products. Around 27 companies and over 45 start-ups from Pakistan are exhibiting at Gitex.

The minister noted that there are some regulatory compliance issues, so steps would be taken for them to operate in the country. “We’ll make progress on this very quickly in the coming few weeks.”

Pakistan is the world’s second-largest online freelance workforce, with around a million. The South Asian nation creates 75,000 IT graduates every year.

“Many companies keep their funds outside the country because there are challenges for them to bring them into the country. They need this liquidity to function smoothly. So we are trying to bring reforms under which IT companies will be able to retain 50 per cent of their revenues in US dollars in their bank accounts. They will have online bank account solutions to spend the funds,” said the minister.

In order to support freelancers, Dr Saif revealed that the government will provide interest-free loans to private sector developers to develop co-working spaces for half a million freelancers in the country.

He said around 150,000 Pakistani professionals are working in the IT sector, which can increase to 700,000, the minister.

$10 billion IT exports potential

The South Asian country’s IT exports currently stood at $2.6 billion per annum, which could be increased to $10 billion in the coming years, Dr Saif said.

Pakistan has formed the Special Technology Zones Authority to set up IT zones where concessions are provided to the companies on tax and utilities etc. to boost exports. These technology zones will house technology companies, outsourcing companies, start-ups, financial institutions and real estate developers capable of building technology infrastructure.

“Around 5-6 technology zones are under development, and 2-3 are already operational. These zones will help to develop and promote the ecosystem in the country and boost exports. Pakistan’s total exports are around $2.6 billion, which have the potential to reach $10 billion,” he added.

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