Pakistan ranks # 3 in the world in terms of number of freelancers. Pakistani freelancers (contrary to overall "Pakistani Perception") are greeted with respect in the world of tech. This is due to the quality and innovation we bring in the market. Pakistani freelancers are far better than our competing neighbours because of our 'thinking out of the box' ability where we take initiatives and solve problems.
As much positive as it is, Pakistani freelancers still face issues when it comes to withdraw their funds because Paypal doesn't work here and other options are not perfect either. Let's talk about some of the payment withdrawal options so you can decide which one is the best:
Paynoeer is a good option if you don't have a bank account. Opening an account on Payoneer is free, they'll send you a card within a month (sometimes it takes longer), and you can withdraw your money from many ATMs in Pakistan. Having said that, Payoneer is not as cute as it sounds because:
- It takes about a month if everything is perfect and if there are any flaws or issues while you were registering your account on Payoneer, it can take a lifetime to get the card - or even, you never get the card.
- Payoneer charges a lot, they have card activation fee, withdrawal fees (everytime you withdraw an amount from ATM), transfer fee (when you transfer your funds from freelancing platform to Payoneer, e.g. Upwork to Payoneer), and annual fee as well.
- There are certain withdrawal limits on ATMs and it varies from ATM to ATM. So if you have 5000USD and ATM withdrawal limit is just 20000 PKR (200USD), which is on many ATMs, that means you have to do many transaction to get 5000USD and you will be charged an ATM withdrawal fee on each transaction. So end of the day, you end up paying a lot!
Skrill (moneybookers) is a good option, it gets linked with your bank account in Pakistan. You can transfer your funds from your freelancing platform to Skrill and then from Skrill to your bank account. Skrill doesn't support all platform, it's not there on Fiverr yet. Skrill gives good exchange rate and takes 2 to 5 business days. The biggest problem I have had with Skrill was their support services. They have below part support. If everything is going good, that's fine but if something happens to your payment then they take days or even weeks to reply and their reply is literally a reply, not a solution. I have had a personal issue with Skrill recently and it took 10 to 12 days to resolve in which I called their UK number at least 20 times and no count on email thread. At the end problem was solved by approaching somebody out of the way.
Skrill isn't bad if there is no problem with your transactions.
Direct Bank Transfer/Local Funds Transfer (Powered by Transpay)
I have found direct bank transfer the best solution.
- Really simple to setup your bank account
- end-to-end transaction (Direct Wire/Bank Transfer is embedded inside the platform, let's say Upwork, and when you want to withdraw, it sends payment from Upwork to your bank, no involving third party services at your end.)
- No Hidden fee
- Affodrable (Upwork charges $4.99 per transaction), Take the above example where you had $5000 in your account and Payoneer & Skrill will charge you a lot as compared to the Local bank transfer.
- Fast - most of the times we get same day payment in our banks.
Upwork uses Local Funds Transfer which is carried out by a company, Transpay. Transpay is an end to end solution, means they don't use a third party to process your withdrawal. It means they are not dependent on anybody else for the completion of their tasks (Unlike Skrill, which uses third party services).
Transpay is available in Pakistan as well so if you have issues etc. you can track them easily on their Facebook page.
Bottom line from me is, this is our hard-earned money and it is very important that we don't pay extra fee when we withdraw it, or we don't have to wait for days before the funds reach our banks, or we don't have to bang our heads against the wall if our payment is lost somewhere or something goes wrong with the transaction. My experience with Local Funds Transfer has been absolutely amazing, they sometimes have slightly lower exchange rate but they never give me headache.