An Open Letter to eBay and PayPal

January 12, 2009 at 6:50 pm 28 comments

I am reproducing this letter written by Faisal Khan to the Presidents of eBay and PayPal to ask what piece of legislation, law, banking infrastructure, etc. prevents eBay/PayPal from including Pakistan under their countries-in-which-they-work umbrella. Faisal has been writing to eBay and PayPal for the last 6 years asking the same question – and so far Pakistan, a country of 170 million, is still deprived of these services.

As Faisal points out, many of us have found ways around this, by going through friends and family in other parts of the world. But why should we have to? Why can these services not be legally available to us? Our community would like these two companies to kindly give us an answer other than “your complaint has been lodged”.

January 11, 2009

John Donahoe
President and CEO
eBay Inc.
2145 Hamilton Avenue
San Jose, CA 95125
USA

Subject: PayPal for Pakistan

Dear Mr. Donahoe,

I understand you are someone who is immensely busy and have thousands of other important issues to deal with, but I thought I’d try my luck with you. I’ve been writing to PayPal / eBay since 2002 regarding issuance of PayPal accounts for Pakistan, in 2005 I started including eBay in my correspondences to include eBay accounts for Pakistan.

I have never received a reply back. Twice in the past, I received a reply back (filed via customer services) that my ‘complaint’ has been lodged and PayPal will look into it. Other than that, have not gotten a satisfactory reply.

The issue – simple. Why is eBay / PayPal not being offered for Pakistan?

I just finished reading an article on your hand-on approach in TIME Magazine (Issue 12 January 2009 – Asian Edition, Page 35, written by Kristina Dell), it simply compelled me to get on the computer and write another letter to eBay / PayPal. The article gave me hope (again!)

Pakistan – purely from your business perspective may not be that big of an economy, but it surely has an economy that is larger and more active than Bhutan, Chad, Honduras, Somalia, Maldives, Rwanda, Uganda, Yemen –combined!

If these countries can have the privilege of obtaining a PayPal account, why not Pakistan?

As Pakistanis cannot legally have a PayPal account, 1000s of users here circumvent the system and obtain PayPal IDs from their friends and relatives abroad to use and conduct commerce. This should be of no surprise to you.

The same can be said about eBay.

Like I cited, we may not be that big on your radar, perhaps we’re not even equated to a blip, but a country of 170 Million, to be blatantly ignored (you may agree or disagree on my choice of words, if the above mentioned countries can have PayPal, I’d like to know what piece of legislation, law, banking infrastructure, etc. prevents eBay/PayPal from including Pakistan under your countries-in-which-you-work umbrella).

Pakistan’s predominant trading Partner happens to be the US. Within respect to both imports and exports (discounting oil).

The first time I experienced eBay and PayPal in the summer of 2001 whilst briefly working in the US – I was mesmerized to say the least. Till date, I wish we had the privilege of conducting business on a website so many take for granted.

This is not meant to be a protest letter by any means. In fact it is one of a very humble request. A request whose time has come, and was long overdue. I have in the past cited my willingness to help, providing information or getting eBay / PayPal connected to Banks, regulators, whomsoever you would like to meet. I am, in no way proposing or advocating a ‘role’ for myself – my intention is just to help.

Is it too much to think that perhaps this one letter will get the ball rolling. Or if the ball is already rolling, yield the desired result. Will this letter be tacked on your things-to-do board and actually get done with? Is this the right time to plead the case for my country?

I’ll end my letter with a quote from Dale Carnegie (sorry, couldn’t find a befitting Irish quote) “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

I just want to be able to have an eBay and a PayPal account from Pakistan. In the event you want to reach me, the easiest way is via email, my personal email address is babushka99@gmail.com and official email address is faisal@nacspl.com
Regards,

FAISAL KHAN
CEO
Net Access Communication Systems (Private) Limited
Karachi, Pakistan.

CC: Mr. Scott Thompson, President, PayPal.

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28 Comments Add your own

  • 1. An Open Letter to eBay and PayPal | Tea Break  |  January 12, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    […] This cup of tea was served by: In the Line of Wire […]

    Reply
  • 2. Obaid Ahmed  |  January 12, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    I think what we really need to do is create our own paypal, there is a huge market for webbased payment system within our country. Many companies, ideas are waiting for this sort of service to leverage upon.

    So if anyone is up for making Paypal for Pakistan (webbased) let me know.. i am interested in helping you out🙂

    Reply
  • 3. minhaaj  |  January 12, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    Way to go. First decent thing requested by Pakistani IT sector

    Reply
  • 4. urham  |  January 12, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    lol, i hav 42 dollars in my unverifed paypal account, what a rubbish, i cant get them converted verified.

    i wish paypal was her3,😦

    Reply
  • 5. Arfeen  |  January 13, 2009 at 12:05 am

    That’s a pretty well thought out letter. If they ever respond, it would be a great if you could post the response on your blog as well.

    @Obaid – I think that in order to truly replicate Paypal, somebody needs to go to the local banks and come up with some way for people to move money back & forth between their paypal and their bank accounts.

    Reply
  • 6. Faisal Khan  |  January 13, 2009 at 1:23 am

    @Arfeen: I think they will respond back. Lets see what transpires in the coming days.

    With respect to Paypal alternatives – there are 100s of them, however, with Paypal being the largest, it would be conniving of us not to put pressure on PayPal to offer the same to Pakistan.

    Reply
  • 7. Asim  |  January 13, 2009 at 4:13 am

    I believe we are asking the question from the wrong party. We should be asking it to the consumer base in Pakistan rather then taking our vows to eBay and PayPal. Is the consumer-base trustworthy? Has the consumer base got the trust it requires for effective PayPal-like operation in Pakistan?

    Relate to how PayPal started and the situation in Pakistan. Let me re-state, if I go out and ask you (incl. the people who terribly want PayPal service) to authorize me and give me 100% access on performing any transaction directly from your bank accounts – with complete authority — how many of you would let me do that?

    The first question you will ask me of my credibility and that if I can be trusted. Theres your difference. PayPal started when nobody could trust it but still everybody gave them the authority over their bank accounts. PayPal is *NOW* a big name but when it started it was not. It provided a convenient way, but the main factor was people unconditionally trusted it.

    If you can prepare a society and trust level in Pakistan like that – perhaps PayPal wouldnt even think twice in launching their operations here. There have many considerably many PayPal-like attempts in Pakistan – eKash, etc. but everybody overlooks the dilemma of trusting people or businesses as the heart of any online payment issue.

    Reply
  • 8. Asim Imtiaz  |  January 13, 2009 at 4:16 am

    The problem is in a place where people think 5 times before using their credit card online – how can you expect them to give full authority to their bank accounts to a third party. Quite frankly, the level of trust among the masses in Pakistan hasnt reached that level yet. Also, where is the accountability procedure in case of a fraudulent activity?

    PayPal requires proof of ID, proof of address, proof of telephone, proof of business (non-profit or otherwise) and proof of bank account — all of which can easily be forged in Pakistan. What is the use of a PayPal service where most of the account doesn’t even get approved by PayPal authority?

    Maybe we do have the required laws – but somehow we might have failed in projecting it to the world as effectively as Yemen, Uganda or Rwanda has done.

    Reply
  • 9. Faisal Khan  |  January 13, 2009 at 8:43 am

    @Asim: The situation is not as bleak as you put it. To start out with, PayPal will be a ‘receive’ only scenario, i.e. we will be able to receive money in. With respect to direct debit from the account, both the underlying ATM switches are able to do that. PayPal also places very strict limits as to what a daily outflow transactional amount can be. No matter what the balance in my bank account is – it first has to be transferred to PayPal (which can for international accounts take a couple of days), and only then the daily balance limit comes into play.

    I understand what you are saying, but lets give it a chance. Surely we are not that bad as Yemen, Uganda, Rwanda or even Somalia. We have an excellent banking system and an infrastructure that is getting there. It things like fax authorization that has kept fraud to a low level. I’m not if faxing is required, but I do a LOT of internet based transactions on my credits cards, yes – occasionally there are problems, but I learn to live and deal with these nuisances that the banks pave in my way, but then I also remember, such nuisances also protect the banks and in return me.

    The whole essence of PayPal is that it is based on a trust associated with an email address. You think PayPal has not seen its fair share of fraud? I bet they have. I’m sure it is something other than our banking setup that is keeping them at bay!

    Reply
  • 10. Jehan  |  January 13, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    @Asim I understand your concern but I agree with Faisal – safeguards will need to be built in but that doesn’t mean depriving ourselves of a facility that many have pointed out, is desperately needed if we are to move ahead in the E-Commerce space.

    Misuse happens everywhere. I had credit card issues in Hong Kong and Singapore – that will happen. As long as it is controlled and security is given due importance, there is no reason why we should be any more of a risk than any other country in our region.

    Reply
  • 12. Asim Imtiaz  |  January 13, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    My point precisely. It is absolutely not as bleak but this is what I deduced from a discussion with my friend who had worked for PayPal legal dept. Somehow we are seen in this dim light.

    Trust issue is something that is based on my opinion specific to our society. I use credit cards online a lot as well – but there arent many people like us. And, the critical thing here is the reversal of fraud activities by credit card companies. Transaction is not a problem, what happens when I make a transaction and claims that I didn’t…. Fraud is inevitable, that is never the issue. Who guarantees that PayPal and alike services will get payment regardless of fraud or not. These guys are interested only when someone can ensure that the burden of fraud is levied on someone else e.g. government or banks or an insurer.

    Plus reg. your view about “receiving money” only – I don’t think you can convince giants like Yahoo, Google to launch a PAKISTAN-service minus their Gmail, Gtalk, Yahoo! Mail and Yahoo! Buzz to start out with and be “thought about” later on. What’s in it for them – unless someone provides a huge business?

    And the core issue still remains — can you trust a person enough to control your bank accounts or even your credit cards (I am not talking of PayPal – its no deal to trust folks when they are already established)?

    Reply
  • 13. An Open Letter by a Pakistani to PayPal/Ebay - ProPakistani  |  January 15, 2009 at 6:18 am

    […] of days ahead, Jehan Ara published a open letter by Faisal Khan, CEO, Net Access Communications to John Donahoe, President […]

    Reply
  • […] The Line Of Wire posts an open letter to eBay and PayPal asking why their services are not being offered for Pakistan, a […]

    Reply
  • 16. A. Hairan  |  January 17, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    It is of course a very big problem that paypal and ebay services are not available in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I once emailed paypal and aksed what was the problem. They replied that the government of Pakistan was not agreeing on some conditions.

    Both the government of Pakistan and the service providers should agree on all things as a very big population is deprived of these facilities.

    I support the open letter.

    Reply
  • 17. Anti-Zionist  |  January 18, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Fraud and risk is everywhere . It’s not the reason. Actually our Govt. doesn’t have clear policies. Also this is need of us, so it means sbp ( state bank of Pakistan ) or any equivalent has to approach them.

    Reply
  • 18. Asif  |  January 19, 2009 at 10:22 am

    recently sent an email to Finance MInsitry. I put up the response for public viewing.

    http://tazakino.com/article.php/e-commerce-finance-ministry

    Reply
  • 19. Faisal Khan  |  January 19, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    As per my understanding, SBP really doesn’t play a role in PayPal’s acceptance into any country. Albeit, this could have changed (my update was good about 3 years ago). If you actually go to PayPal’s website and choose Somalia, or Nigeria or UAE or other countries, you will see the form is specifically made for such countries. I am a firm believer that our banking system is inherently a whole lot better than theirs. “Turning-ON” PayPal and Ebay for Pakistan – ought not to be a problem. One thing that is regrettable is that companies that actually could have made a huge difference, decided not to – and those are the courier companies – especially TCS. The fundamental success of a e-enabled economy is its shipping and handling infrastructure. Read this brief article I wrote about TCS. How they have missed the boat entirely. http://faisalkhan.com/?p=174

    Reply
  • 20. daniel  |  January 23, 2009 at 6:38 am

    can you trust a person enough to control your bank accounts or even your credit cards

    http://moneyfromthemonster.com/

    Reply
  • 21. Atif Subhani  |  January 23, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    THIS IS A VERY GOOD GESTURE BY THIS INDIVIDUAL. WHILE I AM NOT SURE OF THE QUALIFICATION OF THE GENTLEMEN WHO HAS SENT THIS LETTER (BY QUALIFICATION I MEAN BACKGROUND – AS THAT DEFINITELY HELPS WHEN DEALING WITH THIS VERTICAL), I DO HOPE HE FOLLOWS UP ON IT AND SOME THING POSITIVE IS YIELDED FROM THIS.

    PLEASE DO POST AN UPDATE IF YOU GET ONE. SORRY MY CAP KEY JUST GOT STUCK – NEED A REBOOT.

    Reply
  • 22. K-PAX  |  January 23, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Why aren’et we covering htis more???????? let get teraction going. let us spread the work aroud. everyone should be making hue and cry of paypal not being in pakistan. i di dnot know it was availabel in africa. shoot we are a whole lot better than the countries mentioned.

    Reply
  • 23. K-PAX  |  January 27, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    any response back from them????????????? pls update. i can really use a paypal account.

    Reply
  • 24. Arif  |  February 4, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Frankly Speaking the dont want business with us pakis or thats what I assume. I have been living in UK and the number of fraudsters is more than that in pakistan. I would like to quote an old saying
    ” WHERE THERE IS A WILL, THERE IS A WAY”
    If they wish to do so they can.

    Reply
  • 25. Umz  |  March 28, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Today is 28th March. No reply from the CEO….?

    Reply
  • 26. asif mueen  |  November 26, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    want to open e-bay account from Pakistan

    Reply
  • 27. zeeshan  |  December 22, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Forget Paypal dude.. try this

    The best alternate to Paypal and easiest way is through MoneyBookers. You can send or receive money online very easily. No complex procedures required. Just add your bank details and that’s it. All other processing will be handled by MoneyBookers.
    Registeration is very very easy.
    Below is the link (do me a favor because I am referring it), so click below

    MoneyBookers

    Reply
  • 28. Fatima Waheed  |  January 12, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    Here is no real alternate of paypal i am here since more than 5 years and i know ppl use paypal they don’t want to use multiple payment processor accounts. I face problems on daily base only becoz of our country policy, govt must think if they can … but still no chances /// hope for the best ///

    I hate paypal but waiting them badly and shoot them email many times but they says our country policy not match with them.

    Without paypal freelancer life is just a hell, we can use credit card, 2co but they are not best alternate.

    Reply

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