Over the last few days there has been a lot of hype about the announcement that PayPal would be made available to the people of Zimbabwe. Residents can now sign up for personal or business accounts There has been some debate as to why PayPal was not available in Zimbabwe before this point and the simple answer to that question is sanctions. As you can see from the screenshot below (from 2010), PayPal services could not be accessed due to (users) being in a sanctioned country.
The good news for those who really wanted to be able to use their services is that they can now do so without having to revert to weird and wonderful ways of circumventing the restrictions by using Payoneer cards and so on and so forth. The introduction of their services opens Zimbabwean consumers up to a world of online shopping. As a start, items can now be bought on eBay (PayPal’s parent company) with this functionality being extended to being able to pay for goods and services on a countless number of online stores and companies from around the world. The beauty of PayPal is the level of security it provides and that you can make payments to someone online without providing ’that’ particular website with your credit/debit card details.
However, as far as Zimbabwe is concerned, there are some limitations with the first being the unbanked. If you don’t have a bank account then the chances of you having a credit or debit card are slim to none and this is something that you need in order to have a PayPal account. A considerable chunk of the population don’t transact in the informal sector which would exclude them in creating an account.
The other side of the coin to providing an option for consumers to make payments is for merchants to be able to accept payments into their PayPal account. Businesses can open a business account which when you look at the signup screen says ‘for merchants who buy and sell online using their company name’. But, in the case of Zimbabwe, the ’sell online’ part of that statement will not apply. There are currently restrictions in place that do not allow for companies to take advantage of PayPal’s payment solutions; something that we confirmed with PayPal:
@LivingZimbabwe No, though we will be monitoring activity and feedback for future expansion of PayPal services ^AM
— Ask PayPal (@AskPayPal) June 20, 2014
Despite the limitations for merchants, this can be seen as a step in the right direction in that international companies are now a little more open to setting up shop in Zimbabwe. But, as mentioned by a online commentator this move isn’t really in the best interest of Zimbabwean’s because it only serves to funnel money out of the country and doesn’t facilitate for payment inflows for local companies
In your own opinion, does PayPal really work for Zimbabwe?