Online money transfer service PayPal was launched in Bangladesh on Thursday by the prime minister’s ICT adviser, Sajeeb Wazed Joy.
PayPal should pave the way for hassle-free electronic fund transfers, smoothing the inflow of remittances and earnings from expat Bangladeshis and foreign companies.
According to State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak, PayPal users will be able to avail the service in approximately 12,000 branches of nine banks, including Sonali Bank and Rupali Bank.
“We have succeeded in our first step,” the minister said at the launch. “We firmly believe that we will emerge as one of the digital economies in the near future.”
PayPal has enabled nearly 200 million individuals and businesses to transfer funds electronically since its launch in the US in December 1998.
It is available in more than 200 markets around the world and enables its account holders to receive money in more than 100 currencies, withdraw funds in 56 currencies and hold PayPal account balances in 25 currencies.
In Bangladesh, PayPal will be particularly useful to around 550,000 freelancers and about 700 e-commerce websites.
Currently, local freelancers have to use roundabout ways to bring home their foreign currency earnings – that is by using someone else’s accounts abroad – which is both risky and costly.
Joy, speaking at the launching ceremony, said anyone can now send money to Bangladesh from abroad using PayPal. The process usually takes 40 minutes but will not take more than two hours.
“There is no annual charge. There is a fee of $5 for a transaction below $1,000 but there is no fee if the amount is above $1,000,” he said. “You can send the money 24/7.”