Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Science and Technology Umar Saif has said that the government is actively engaging in discussions with PayPal to enable its operations in Pakistan.
Saif said this during an interview with Dubai Newsweek at Gitex Global being held at Dubai’s World Trade Centre, where he highlighted the immense potential of Pakistan’s online freelance workforce.
PayPal in Pakistan?
Saif said that Pakistan is the second-largest hub for online freelance work globally. A significant portion of the Pakistani workforce actively contributes to freelance platforms such as Fiverr and Upwork.
With approximately one million Pakistani freelancers earning their livelihood on these platforms daily, the demand for international payment gateways, including PayPal, has grown substantially.
Freelancers often encounter challenges when it comes to receiving payments from foreign clients due to the absence of PayPal and other widely-used international payment gateways in Pakistan. To address this issue, Saif emphasized that the government has presented a comprehensive business plan to PayPal, with hopes of achieving a positive outcome within the next two to four weeks.
Potential of PayPal in Pakistan
The IT minister highlighted that PayPal faces certain issues in Pakistan but has the opportunity to witness substantial growth.
“With a workforce of more than one million freelancers generating significant daily income, Pakistan has presented a $10 billion opportunity for PayPal,” the minister said.
The business plan, presented to PayPal, emphasizes the immense market value and underscores the need for regulatory and compliance solutions to ensure a smooth operation in Pakistan.
Co-Working Spaces for Freelancers
In addition to enabling international payment gateways, the Pakistani government is actively considering the creation of co-working spaces for freelancers.
This initiative seeks to provide a conducive and productive environment for freelancers, ensuring they can work hassle-free.
The government plans to offer interest-free loans to the private sector to establish co-working spaces, with the goal of accommodating at least 500,000 freelancers.
Saif said that Pakistan took a substantial step by establishing the Special Technology Zone Authority (STZA).
Under this authority, Pakistan is working on setting up multiple technology zones, offering special incentives to tech companies operating within the country.
“Currently, five to seven technology zones have been established, two of which are already operational. Pakistan’s official IT exports currently stand at $2.6 billion, and the government is implementing reforms to facilitate the retention of these funds within Pakistani banks,” he said.
Upskilling and Growth Prospects
The Federal minister emphasized the potential for growth in Pakistan’s IT sector.
“Currently, around 150,000 IT professionals work in the country, and this number could potentially increase to 700,000 through training and upskilling programmes. These initiatives are expected to boost Pakistan’s IT exports, which could reach $10 billion in the next two to three years,” he added.
Incentives for IT Sector
To attract more IT businesses, Pakistan is offering various incentives including tax relief.
“These initiatives highlight Pakistan’s commitment to nurturing its IT sector and empowering freelancers while creating a welcoming environment for international tech companies like PayPal to operate in the country. With the potential for substantial growth and increased IT exports, Pakistan is taking steps to become a global IT hub,” he concluded.