PayPal (not) in Africa

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Collins Mbalo, resident blogger at A Nairobian's Perspective, complains about the lack of access to PayPal services in Kenya and Africa generally. While anyone can set up a PayPal account, Africans have no way to transfer this money into a bank account. PayPal has a list of the services it provides in countries around the world here.

It looks like there's not a single country in Africa under the "Send. Receive. Withdraw" heading. At best, residents in Africa only have access to the 'send' function. Africans don't even have access to a functionality that allows users in some countries to withdraw funds to a debit card. I'm not sure why this is the case, but at least in South Africa it looks like the tax authorities are afraid they're going to miss out on tax revenues. You can read more speculations about why this is the case on the blog of an African internet entrpreneur.

The lack of any effective way to facilitate e-commerce obviously places a serious constraing on the development of online markets. However, Mbalo thinks that PayPal is missing out on an opportunity:

I believe that maybe Paypal does not recognize the potential and opportunities available in Africa and it is time we trumpeted this cause...Due to its inadequate presence in hinterland Africa, the E-Commerce provider is losing out on massive profits which it could rake in due to emerging robust markets in Africa."

What would it take to get PayPal to expand into African markets? 


Ryan Hahn

Operations Officer

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