DesPardes + PKonweb

This Startup Can Help Pakistanis in Mideast Get Paid in Pakistan For Freelance Online

Eventually, monies earned by these expats in the Middle East will add to remittances and to the household disposable income of their families back home.

IRSHAD SALIM — Pakistan is the fourth fastest-growing freelance market. Also, nearly 10m Pakistanis are based overseas, and a substantial number of them live in GCC countries– the largest community of them have been working on Aqama (Resident Work Visa) in Saudi Kingdom for years. There, rules do not allow a second job (moonlighting), nor business. However, many expats have the ability to do freelancing, a huge business opportunity which is based on the world wide web. But getting paid in their resident accounts make many shy away.

Here’s a perfectly legal bypass system in my opinion: PaySay a fintech, headquartered in UK with an offshore office in Lahore. The startup aims to enable local freelancers and education academies receive payments from Europe by offering them a UK-based bank account.

The business model taps Pakistani freelance market and at the same time fills the gap Paypal and similar payment gateways have created by their absence.

The impact on the massive and growing freelancing community within the country could however be extended beyond and cover Pakistani expats and their families in Saudi (as an example).

Also, a huge community of spouses (nearly 95pct) of these expats in KSA want some type of home-based jobs. Freelancing online with PaySay in place, could be a winner for all.

Eventually, monies earned by these expats in the Middle East will add to remittances and to the household disposable income of their families back home.

For now, I take it this huge community of spouses is yearning to do home-based work but our “stranded assets” needing to be mobilized.

The process is very simple: open the website, enter the freelancers page, sign up using an email address and the system will generate UK account details in a matter of seconds with details like sort code, account number among others. You can then use these with your foreign clients who then wouldn’t have to pay you through an international bank transfer, saving both parties from the inconvenience.

Once you have money in your (Pakistani) account, it’s tax free, legitimate, transparent and documented– the best part is it meets all local and international laws.

Will such home-based freelancers in the kingdom break any law?. Not really. Many buy and sell stocks online.

PaySay has two revenue streams — 0.25 per cent and 0.50pc charges on both the transaction and foreign exchange rates on standard and express payments, respectively. How­ever, for Pakistan-bound payments, they have forgone the former and just restricted themselves to the forex margins.

Since the launching of this freelancing payment service three months ago, the startup has floated around $2 million whereas in the remittance business, over a billion dollars have been transacted.

Whether PaySay will be able to fill in the trust deficit remains a wild card though.

Still, and other things being equal, the startup is a good news for Pakistani Diaspora in the Mideast– specially in Saudi Arabia who want to do freelancing online and get paid in Pakistan and have been unable to do so.

The writer is a business consultant, analysts, and Editor-in-Chief of PKonweb.com and DesPardes.com. He’s presently based in Islamabad.

A version of the article appeared in June 2019

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