International online payment gateway PayPal is finally gearing up to launch its services in Bangladesh.
State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak yesterday confirmed the matter to The Daily Star.
He said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy would launch the service on October 19, the second day of ICT Expo-2017.
PayPal's services will be available through nine banks including Sonali Bank and Rupali Bank, paving the way for hassle-free electronic money transfers that would increase access to earnings from work outsourced from abroad.
“It will take only 40 minutes to receive the money from any country,” said Palak, after a programme at Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC).
The country has thousands of freelancers who are working for different reputed foreign countries sitting at home and this development will help them directly, he said.
“Already we have completed several hundred transactions successfully.”
According to official sources, all necessary processes, including the cross-checking of documents, legal compliance and finalisation of terms and conditions, have been completed.
However, a PayPal team will come to Dhaka in November to get an idea of how things are going.
Bangladesh Bank in March permitted state-owned Sonali Bank to launch PayPal. Freelancers have been eagerly waiting since then for the launch. Palak said one can bring money into the country through this service, not drain it out.
Since its beginning in December 1998, PayPal has enabled nearly 200 million individuals and businesses to transfer funds electronically.
PayPal, available in over 200 markets worldwide, enables its accountholders to receive money in over 100 currencies, withdraw funds in 56 currencies and hold PayPal account balances in 25 currencies.
Its presence in Bangladesh will provide an electronic channel for the transfer of money from one country to another, the influx of remittances and earnings from foreign companies and increase access to foreign consumers.
Industry insiders said there were roughly five lakh freelancers in the country who frequently required transactions through online platforms and wanted to avoid banking hassles.
“A good number of Bangladeshi freelancers cannot bring in their hard-earned money through proper channels due to a lack of a trusted and easy workable payment gateway,” said Mostafa Jabber, president of the Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services.
At present, these local freelancers use middlemen to bring in their foreign income, a move which is both risky and comes at a high cost. Their income is also considered a part of the inflow of remittances. So PayPal's launch will help record this earning, said industry experts.
Currently there are other payment gateways in the country but freelancers depend on PayPal the most because it is the most secured and trusted, said Jabber.
Leaders of the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh said PayPal would help entrepreneurs expand their businesses by ensuring that they are easily receiving payments for work both at home and abroad.