Pakistan’s Freelancers Anticipate PayPal and Stripe Access, Says Caretaker IT Minister

Dr. Umar Saif, the Caretaker Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunications in Pakistan, has announced exciting developments for the country’s IT sector. He hinted at forthcoming good news regarding the introduction of PayPal and Stripe payment gateways in Pakistan within the next four to six weeks. This is significant for the nation’s burgeoning community of freelancers, as they have lacked proper financial instruments for transactions.

Pakistan currently boasts around 1.5 million IT freelancers, making it the world’s second-largest online workforce. However, infrastructure limitations have hindered their progress. To address this, the E-Rozgar program will provide interest-free loans to the private sector to establish co-working spaces for up to 500,000 people.

Furthermore, Pakistan’s IT sector, comprising around 19,000 companies, provides jobs for 150,000 people and exports goods worth $2.5 billion. Dr. Saif noted that many IT firms store their reserves and revenues abroad due to restrictions on US dollar repatriation. To tackle this issue, companies have been allowed to retain 50% of their revenue in US dollar accounts, equipped with corporate debit cards for international transactions.

The State Bank of Pakistan has also increased the retention limit for IT exporters from 35% to 50% of their export proceeds in foreign currency accounts, further facilitating IT exports. Dr. Saif emphasized the need for a skilled IT workforce, introducing standardized tests and mandatory apprenticeships for IT graduates. Additionally, Pakistan is looking to enhance cybersecurity by establishing a cybersecurity authority.

Lastly, the government plans to launch the Pakistan Startup Fund to attract global venture capitalists and nurture billion-dollar startups. Dr. Saif also disclosed the initiation of 5G spectrum auctions and a cell phone financing scheme, which will allow people to purchase high-end phones in installments, fostering a high-end phone market in the country. These developments promise a bright future for Pakistan’s IT sector and its digital economy.

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