PayPal and Stripe payment gateways set to launch in Pakistan, 5G auction approved

The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication working on setting up a financial system for PayPal and Stripe in Pakistan and the country will hear “good news” soon, Caretaker Federal Minister for IT and Telecom. Dr Umar Saif said.

Dr. Saif, addressing the media alongside caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi, highlighted the challenges faced by the growing freelancing community in Pakistan, emphasizing the lack of financial tools to facilitate payments.

“Therefore, we have held talks with PayPal, Stripe and Wise, and have presented our case to them,” said the IT Minister. “These companies have their apprehensions, including the FATF issue. Despite this, we are seeing progress. I am optimistic that we will hear good news regarding PayPal, and Stripe in the coming four to six weeks, and through any formula, we will provide these services to our freelancer community,” he added.

Liberating Forex reserves for IT firms

A significant challenge for IT companies in Pakistan has been the limitation on repatriating foreign currency earnings, leading many to keep their reserves and revenues abroad. However, recent efforts by the IT ministry and Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA) now allow companies to retain 50% of their revenue in US dollar accounts and offer corporate debit cards for international transactions.

Furthermore, the State Bank of Pakistan has raised the retention limit for IT exporters from 35% to 50% of export proceeds in the Exporters’ Specialized Foreign Currency Accounts (ESFCAs). Accessing and using these retained funds has also been simplified, reducing the need for approvals from the SBP or banks. These measures aim to encourage IT exporters to bring more foreign exchange into Pakistan.

“The IT sector in Pakistan holds several significant distinctions: it is the only major industry in the country with a trade surplus, the capability to earn up to $5 billion in foreign exchange within a year, the potential to bridge Pakistan’s trade deficit, and the ability to stabilize the economy by generating high-paying jobs,” said Muhammad Zohaib Khan, Chairman of P@SHA.

Pakistan’s IT sector

  • Pakistan’s IT sector comprises approximately 19,000 companies, offering employment to 150,000 people and official exports worth $2.5 billion.
  • 1.5 million Pakistanis work as IT freelancers.
  • E-Rozgar program will provide interest-free loans to the private sector and plans to establish co-working spaces for 500,000 individuals.
  • Pakistan’s IT exports amount to $4-4.5 billion.

5G spectrum auction approved

Meanwhile, the federal cabinet granted approval for the telecom infrastructure-sharing framework and authorized the establishment of a committee to conduct the auction of 5G wireless network spectrum, Dr Saif said on Wednesday.

The committee headed by Caretaker Finance Minister Sham­shad Akhtar would assess the spectrum’s availability across various frequency bands — including 700, 1,800, 2,100 and 2,600 megahertz (MHz) — and proceed with its auction, based on recommendations of the Pakistan Telecommunication Autho­rity. The committee would also include the ministers for IT, science and technology, industries and production, the secretaries of relevant ministries, and Federal Board of Revenue officials.

Dr Saif said the committee’s primary task would to evaluate the spectrum’s availability across different frequency bands — including 700, 1,800, 2,100 and 2,600 megahertz (MHz) — and subsequently conduct the auction based on recommendations from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

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