Accepting online payments in Pakistan – a well rounded discussion

M looking to offer freelance services to worldwide clients but kind of stuck with the payments issue (you’d have guessed it, already). The topic has been discussed several times but there’s no well-rounded discussion on any of the Pakistani forum (there are plenty, but in parts), which is strange. Coming to the problem, there’re so many downsides to each of the available payment methods … i am stating them all, some may have been discussed already but I think it will help the aspiring freelancers if we can discuss the pros and cons for each of these methods all at one place, and let them decide themselves.

PayPal: To start with, you cannot legitimately register for PayPal from Pakistan. You need some source in PayPal approved regions to sign up and verify for you … even then there are chances that PayPal will figure it out someday and block your account (even though I personally know many guys who are using it all the time from Pakistan and despite PayPal occasionally asking for verifications, have never had any problem whatsoever. Even though, I’ve got friends and family members who can make an account for me, I don’t think it’s a good idea to establish a business with an outsider having some access to your account, no matter how reliable they are.

2Checkout: Next best option is 2co, especially after they’ve started accepting payments made via PayPal … however, they inquire about the company legal name, company owner history and more importantly NTN … acquiring NTN means one has to submit his/her account and income details (I’ve heard that IT services are exempted from tax but I don’t think they’ll let you go that easily). I’ll be grateful if someone can share his first hand experience related to taxation issues …

Plimus: Another option and they accept PayPal payments as well … a couple of Plimus users i know are quite content with their services but they seemingly have very lengthy procedure, which is a turnoff for your customers … still, I think Plimus can be a good option for those who are selling some sort of services because your client won’t mind going through some verifications. However, I haven’t talked to someone in Pakistan, who is using their services and who knows they might be having similar authentication requirements like 2checkout …

WesternUnion: I am not really sure how you can use western union to sell your services online … at least you cannot accept online payments … another drawback is that you may have to explain the source of income sooner or later because it may appear suspicious to some authorities (thanks to all these money laundering and terrorism issues)

Wire transfer: Not quite sure if it really works or not … second, you’ve got to explain the nature of your business to the guys at banks who are seemingly not aware of the term “freelancer” … the topic has been discussed in another thread recently and I’ve a similar experience when I went to open an account in UBL and the guy has absolutely no idea of how a freelancer works and all the time he was asking for documented proofs, business plan, etc. Maybe, SCB or Citibank can provide better services but again, have to hear from someone who has personally dealt with these guys?

Please, please share your opinions, suggestions, recommendations, advice ….

How about AlertPay.com ? have you used it ?

I never used it but its work in Pakistan.

I don't quite understand why you've forgotten MoneyBookers. I use it (along with paypal) and MB is also great. And i believe its the most used after paypal :)

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PayPal:
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First you can not get paypal. Second you can not get money at home.

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2Checkout
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It is not for freelancers.

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Plimus
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It is also not for freelancers.

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WesternUnion I am not really sure how you can use western union to sell your services online … at least you cannot accept online payments … another drawback is that you may have to explain the source of income sooner or later because it may appear suspicious to some authorities (thanks to all these money laundering and terrorism issues)
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Yes you can get payment through western union provided buyer is willing. I would like to share my experience with western union. I could not receive payment because of my name, Muhammad Umar. Both the word Muhammad and Umar are suspicious for western union. Some names are in their watch list. If required i shall write detail here about the whole incident. In short we had to cancel the transaction. After that i never used western union.

I was unlucky. Not necessarily you will also face this trouble.

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Wire transfer: Not quite sure if it really works or not … second, you’ve got to explain the nature of your business to the guys at banks who are seemingly not aware of the term “freelancer” … the topic has been discussed in another thread recently and I’ve a similar experience when I went to open an account in UBL and the guy has absolutely no idea of how a freelancer works and all the time he was asking for documented proofs, business plan, etc. Maybe, SCB or Citibank can provide better services but again, have to hear from someone who has personally dealt with these guys?
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If buyer is a foreigner, it will cost him a lot. I already advised in some other thread, try to avoid telling about freelancer, adsense, clickbank. I opened a bank account in ubl recently. I simply told them that i am web designer. They asked me nothing else. Also i received 35000 thousand rupees from my brother in saudi arabia in my e-transaction ubl account a few day ago. I only received the email that you have get the payment. I did not receive any phone call and nobody asked me who has sent it and why? I have online banking option so i verified it online.

As already mentioned above you can try moneybookers. Most pakistanis are able to get their hard earned earnings through moneybookers. I was again unlucky here. Check this thread of mine, http://www.wiredpakistan.com/forums/viewtopic.php?id=11055.

My money is still in moneybookers and i am unable to withdraw it. To verify bank account, they allow only one try. So be careful and do not use standard chartered bank.

Now you will be thinking i never able get payment at home. No i got. I received through moneygram and now i receive payment at the start of each month through moneygram. A buyer sends it.

Also if we can discuss offline payment methods local business. Of course bank deposits are there, but i was thinking about low subscription fees, like Rs.100-200. I don't think it's a good idea to go and deposit Rs.100 every month in a bank.

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First you can not get paypal. Second you can not get money at home.

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You can get PayPal if you reside outside of Pakistan. If you do have a PayPal account, you can get money at home…

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It is not for freelancers.

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I don’t understand why you said this? Maybe because 2CO doesn’t accept direct payments, and only through their payment module implemented on your website? I don’t see how hard would it be for freelancers to setup a 2co payment module on their website and ask clients to send the payment through that.

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It is also not for freelancers.

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same reply as for 2CO

2CO, Plimus are used for processing payments. Freelancing is a business, and you're the sole proprietor in this case. So yes, they CAN and should be used if you are fine with their costs. The cheaper alternative in form of MoneyBookers always exists, i.e. if you want to use it.

Sure, as a Pakistani, with a lack of paypal you are charged more for accepting payments. However, it shouldn't be blamed for your lack of success. It's only those x% of loss that's mattering to you. Seriously, your clients won't be put off by paying you via 2CO or Plimus. It's not really inconvenient! On the other hand, moneybookers can be cumbersome with its verification system and not everyone will be ready to pay you via MB. So keep the alternative option in form of Plimus/2CO. Anyone who blames Paypal as the reason of their failure in freelancing doesn't have what it takes to freelance ;) (Not pointing fingers, just talking in general.)

Accept donations is a different thing. I release much less opensource stuff now as it's all time spent with no monetary motivation. Paypal is the gold standard for accepting donations. 2CO/Plimus do not allow it.

Similarly, paying others is a PITA. If you have to hire freelancers who are not from Pakistan, sometimes they accept only paypal. Likewise, you can't pay your affiliates because most of them only accept Paypal and affiliates are usually the lazy-asses who will never get out of their comfort zone (stereotyping, I know!).

Personally, I have used 2CO only in my freelancing career.

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It is not for freelancers.
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You need to have a website, refund policy, registered company and NTN … Getting a website, refund policy and registered company is not that difficult, acquiring NTN and dealing with the tax policies later on is … however, if IT services are really exempted from any kind of taxes then one can think about it …

Your experience with western union is really, really weird … I mean suspicious names? Wot Madness … if they are such rubbish checks in place, there’s no way I m going to use it. I think they’ve some kind of collaboration with Pakistan Post office … I don’t think how do they operate after putting such commonly used names in their suspicious list …

Coming to the wire transfer … could you give me a rough idea as to how much it’ll cost to transfer say $1000 from a US bank to Pakistan account?

@ campolar & Asad_N

What about the NTN? I’ve heard it takes some time before you can acquire an NTN … and what about the taxes later on? Services like web designing or web marketing are covered in that exemption for software house or not?

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You need to have a website, refund policy, registered company and NTN
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You just need a simple website and a refund / privacy policy. That’s not tough. They don’t require a real registered company in your country. Their wire transfers are not sent on company names but on any account, whether it’s a company’s account or individual. It can be any individual. All they’re asking for is a central website that sells what you want to provide (web development services in your case), and a system to handle it. 2CO is a bit strict but Plimus is pretty relaxed.

If you have a real business, then go ahead and register it. Otherwise, the software exporters are exempt from taxes anyways, and whether you register for taxes is a personal choice (you’ll still be exempt, as a software exporter).

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Coming to the wire transfer … could you give me a rough idea as to how much it’ll cost to transfer say $1000 from a US bank to Pakistan account?
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Depends on the banks. Most US banks charge from $15 - 75 - depending on whether or not there are intermediary banks involved.

For webmasters checks are a very good option. Almost all ad companies support this payment method. Its slow though but that is part and parcel of the business. You have to think long term!

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I don’t understand why you said this? Maybe because 2CO doesn’t accept direct payments, and only through their payment module implemented on your website? I don’t see how hard would it be for freelancers to setup a 2co payment module on their website and ask clients to send the payment through that.
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I take my words back. I said that because i mainly work on freelancer.com that has no relation with 2Checkout and plimus.

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Your experience with western union is really, really weird … I mean suspicious names? Wot Madness … if they are such rubbish checks in place, there’s no way I m going to use it. I think they’ve some kind of collaboration with Pakistan Post office … I don’t think how do they operate after putting such commonly used names in their suspicious list …
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In fact it is us government’s policy. Western Union just implements it. Moneygram also follows this policy. Only difference is moneygram is not very strict on it.

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Coming to the wire transfer … could you give me a rough idea as to how much it’ll cost to transfer say $1000 from a US bank to Pakistan account?
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I can not give an estimate. Once my buyer told me his bank was charging a $45 fee to send $ 150 to my pak rupee bank account. We did not use that option. Also you may already know that banks always give low conversion rate.

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I can not give an estimate. Once my buyer told me his bank was charging a $45 fee to send $ 150 to my pak rupee bank account. We did not use that option. Also you may already know that banks always give low conversion rate.

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Yes $45 is the fee at jp morgan chase. Citibank is $25. But sometimes you also get charged by the correspondent bank. In short its not possible to predict beforehand how much will be taken in bank fees. Wire transfer is not worth it unless the amount is at least $1000.

^ On one of my US$1150 transfers to Hong Kong some time back, I was charged US$65. It involved two banks abroad before reaching the recepient bank.

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^ On one of my US$1150 transfers to Hong Kong some time back, I was charged US$65. It involved two banks abroad before reaching the recepient bank.
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And once I wire transferred $300 to germany; only $220 reached there. My main bank in Pakistan charged $15 but the intermediary bank(s) charged $65.

Don't confuse Paypal and Moneybookers with 2CO and Plimus as they both work differently.

In case of 2Co and Pimus you cannot just give someone your email address and receive money. You have to setup a web page where you need to list your product/service for sale and then client comes and pay you. This is what I have experienced. Plus last I checked 2CO costs $50 to create an account.

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Don’t confuse Paypal and Moneybookers with 2CO and Plimus as they both work differently.

In case of 2Co and Pimus you cannot just give someone your email address and receive money. You have to setup a web page where you need to list your product/service for sale and then client comes and pay you. This is what I have experienced.

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I’ve already said that O_o

There’s no question of confusing one method with another, of course the procedure is going to be a little different with each of these services but the basic purpose is the same (i.e. accepting online payments)

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For webmasters checks are a very good option. Almost all ad companies support this payment method. Its slow though but that is part and parcel of the business.
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I am not sure how that works … however I can assume that the service charges are going to be on the higher side just like the wire transfers … also it may not be a feasible option for monthly subscriptions (not sure, just an assumption).

I’ll be grateful if you can explain the method for others, along with its pros and cons in detail.

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There’s no question of confusing one method with another, of course the procedure is going to be a little different with each of these services but the basic purpose is the same (i.e. accepting online payments)

I am not sure how that works … however I can assume that the service charges are going to be on the higher side just like the wire transfers … also it may not be a feasible option for monthly subscriptions (not sure, just an assumption).

I’ll be grateful if you can explain the method for others, along with its pros and cons in detail.

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Well I wrote a related blog post here. In brief the cost is $10-15 per check or even free if you maintain a good balance. The time for check clearance is 1 month and usually you get the check via postal mail within 11-14 days.

I have some question regarding Paypal and online payments. I am opening a Hotfile account for uploading and they have affiliation program in which we have to choose Webmoney, Epassporte and PayPal as a mode of their payment. Now if i register to their program with my friend's paypal e-mail who is in abroad. Is it possible that payment first goes to his paypal account (obviously) then he withdraw that and send me through Western Union. I think when money will come here in Pakistan, they will give me converted money (in PKR.) . Is it possible ?

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I have some question regarding Paypal and online payments. I am opening a Hotfile account for uploading and they have affiliation program in which we have to choose Webmoney, Epassporte and PayPal as a mode of their payment. Now if i register to their program with my friend’s paypal e-mail who is in abroad. Is it possible that payment first goes to his paypal account (obviously) then he withdraw that and send me through Western Union. I think when money will come here in Pakistan, they will give me converted money (in PKR.) . Is it possible ?
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Yeah possible but

a) You have to trust that your friend will send you the money. Your friend must also be a patient fellow because you will no doubt be bugging him constantly to check his account or wire you the money.

B) WU is only practical for large amounts. At least a few hundred USD. Also WU’s fees are very high.

Finally don’t try to access your friend’s account from Pakistan yourself. If you do that his account will get frozen and he will have to provide documents to verify his identity.