In a groundbreaking move for Pakistan’s burgeoning freelance community, PayPal is set to establish its presence in the country through a strategic partnership with an existing international payment gateway.
The joint venture announcement is anticipated for next week, marking a significant milestone for the approximately 1.5 million freelancers and IT professionals in Pakistan, making it the fourth-largest community globally.
Caretaker Minister for IT and Telecom, Dr Umar Saif, confirmed that PayPal would operate indirectly in Pakistan through this collaboration. This development follows persistent efforts by previous governments to convince PayPal to operate within the country, which initially faced resistance citing security concerns.
Dr Saif emphasised the positive impact of this move on IT exports and freelancer remittances, underscoring recent measures supporting a more liberal financial regime. He revealed that IT exports have already experienced a notable surge, with a 13 per cent increase in November alone, and expressed confidence that this growth trajectory will continue.
The IT Ministry, under Dr Saif’s leadership, has implemented various initiatives to bolster the IT sector. These include providing smartphones through installment plans, standardising quality tests for IT graduates, and approving the National Space Policy. Dr Saif expressed optimism about launching 5G services in Pakistan by July 2024, with a spectrum auction offering 300 MHz.
The government aims to boost IT exports from the current $2.6 billion to approximately $5 billion by facilitating a more liberal financial regime. As part of this effort, IT companies can now retain 50 per cent of their export revenue in dollars in a local account, simplifying international payments.
In addition to these measures, the government plans to launch 10,000 e-Rozgar centres across the country, providing facilities for freelancers and start-ups. The recently approved National Space Policy allows companies to utilise low-orbit satellites for communication services, further enhancing the technological landscape in Pakistan.
The upcoming joint venture between PayPal and an international payment gateway is expected to usher in a new era of financial opportunities for Pakistan’s freelancers and IT professionals, contributing significantly to the country’s economic growth and global standing in the IT sector.