One of the toughest parts of being a freelancer from Pakistan is the lack of Paypal as a payment option. I’ve personally come across many jobs/clients that specifically say they can only pay through Paypal. In fact, many US-based clients cannot understand how payment through Paypal is simply not an option for us Pakistanis.
What options does that leave you with? The one most people opt for is using Odesk or Elance – as these services allow you to withdraw money directly into a Pakistani bank account. Unfortunately, this also limits the kind of jobs you can apply to, and bidding sites in general tend to lower the rate per hour, so here are two alternatives that are similar to Paypal.
Payoneer account holders are issued a Master Debit Card which they can use to withdraw funds from any associated ATM in Pakistan. Head over to the website, and sign up for an account. Initially you will only be providing basic details (email, address, phone number) which they will verify before proceeding to the next step.
The way the process is explained on the website, you either need to sign up for the US/EUR payment service, or be a part of their affiliated websites like Fiverr or Elance to get your account approved. Once you have managed to get the account, you will be able to withdraw money easily from the debit card which they will email you.
Payoneer debit cards aren’t free to use. You pay an annual account maintenance fee of $29.95. For every withdrawal, there is a further fee of $3.15 per withdrawal.
2. Skrill (Previously MoneyBookers)
Individuals can open a Skrill account by registering through the website. You will enter some basic data (address, email, name), which will give you access to the account. You will further need to verify this information if you want to receive higher amounts, but you can get started without doing that. Enter your bank account or debit/credit card information to register your accounts with your email ID. While I have never used the service, I believe your clients only need your email address to be able to send you money.
Owning a Skrill account is free, but if you don’t use your account for 12-months (and have funds in it) you will be charged 1 Euro per month as long as your account balance remains positive. ATM withdrawals are 1.80 Euro per withdrawal, while bank withdrawals are 2.95 Euro.
No matter how you view it, Pakistani freelancers don’t have a lot of options for receiving payments online. You could sign up for a 2CheckOut account – link it to your website, and ask clients to pay directly through this option – but nothing beats the convenience of a US-Paypal account.
Many freelancers open US bank accounts while visiting the country, then setup a Paypal account they can keep using even when back in Pakistan. Of course, this might result in trouble if Paypal figures out you’re doing this, including getting your Paypal account blocked.
What payment option do you use? We’d love to get an idea of what people are using, and we’ll start digging into more options as soon as we can.