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Using PayPal from Zimbabwe: Introduction

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In this series we will look at how to buy and sell using PayPal from Zimbabwe.

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Update: Recently, PayPal contacted our webhosts with a request to take down this page because it “uses our trademarks inappropriately.” We assumed they meant their logo and not all the content on the page. We have therefore removed the paypal logo and replaced it with the picture below.

paymentsAlmost everyone of our readers knows how difficult it is to use PayPal to make payments from Zimbabwe. In fact not so long ago it was not even possible to access and use the PayPal website from within Zimbabwe without using some sort of proxy or VPN. After several months of research I am pleased to announce I have come with a viable work around on how to use PayPal to make purchases and sell from Zimbabwe.

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PayPal is a subsidiary of Ebay.com that processes online payments for a lot of merchants. It is easily the most popular online payment processor. For example on Ebay.com it is extremely difficult to find merchants that accept any other form of payment. PayPal has however obstinately ignored the Zimbabwean market citing “sanctions.” If you attempt to sign up you will notice that Zimbabwe along with other countries such as Pakistan, Iraq and Bangladesh are not available which makes me seriously doubt the sanctions reason. Even if you were to put a false address once you have signed up your Zimbabwean issued Visa/MasterCard cannot be added to your new account.

Synopsis of the problems.
To open and operate a PayPal account you need to overcome the following problems:

  • Get a valid address that will be accepted by PayPal. In order to avoid a ban by PayPal this needs to be from the same country as your card/ bank account’s billing address.

  • Get a card that is accepted by PayPal. It has been said that BancABC cards are issued from Botswana and can therefore be used with PayPal. I must confess that although I have an account with them I have never tried it. I would recommend using the Payoneer card which you can get for free.

  • Payoneer prevents you from loading your card privately so you need to find acceptable ways to load the card. I would recommend Skrill.

Legality
PayPal does not preclude Zimbabweans from using PayPal per se they merely do not accept use by people in “sanctioned countries.” For example PayPal happily accepts the patronage of those in the Diaspora even though they are Zimbabweans. It would seem that the billing address you use in your account is key. I have successfully used PayPal using my acquired address for a while now and have not had any problems with PayPal.

Need
PayPal is one of the most popular means of payment and for some sites like Ebay.com there is simplily no alternative. Whilst we have written on how to accept payments from PayPal most of us have been left out of certain deals because we could not make payments using PayPal. Also ever since the closure of Google Checkout it has become increasingly difficult to find acceptable means of payment that Zimbabweans can use. Payza also does not accept Zimbabweans and Bitpay’s exchange rates are always fluctuating it’s like buying using the old Zimdollar.

It the next instalment we’ll look at how you can obtain a Payoneer card and appropriate billing address.

image via: treasurer.org.cn


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28 thoughts on “Using PayPal from Zimbabwe: Introduction

  1. I have used the BancABC card successfully on PayPal after providing a Botswana address. It works like a charm…

    1. I couldn’t find any info on the card from BancABC’s website, maybe you can help me out:
      What are the requirements for one to get the card?

      How long does BancABC take to issue the card?
      How much does it cost?
      Is it available for companies as well?
      Did you use the Botswana address to apply for the card as well?

      Thanks

      1. The card costs $20 and if you want one which is not personalised i.e. you dont mind the card not having your name on it, then its issued instantly at any BancABC branch. If you want a card that has your name on it then you have to wait for 3 weeks. besides just having your name, there is no difference when transacting. No pre-requirements are needed. Just have your ID and thats all since its a pre-paid card. you use your Zimbabwe address to apply but when registering on PayPal using a Botswana address.

          1. No maintenance fees are charged. Its charged per transaction. Its roughly 2% of transaction value from my own assessment but I could be wrong.

  2. I have used the Payoneer Card during the problematic 2008 period. Had nothing to do except to stay on freelancer.com. When you get that card, you can create another account as an employer-like, then you can use your Zim-acquired VISA/Mastercard Card to pay your other freelancer account. From the Freelancer account,you then transfer the received money to your payoneer account and it will be loaded to your card. For address when creating the paypal account, you can use your Zim address and then instead of putting your country as Zimbabwe, you put South Africa. “Zimbabwe” becomes part of the address lines. There are a lot of costs involved in all this.

      1. The last I remember you could not receive money in your paypal account, but it would be deducted directly from your linked Payoneer Card when you wanted to buy where paypal is accepted. Its like as if paypal would process your Payoneer Debit Card the moment you want to do a transaction.

        I ceased using this card when it expired, but of late I have heard some people saying you can get a US Virtual Bank account through Payoneer, then you would verify your account so as to receive money through paypal.

        All is expensive and somehow compromised, so I have partnered with some diasporans to share an account they don’t use. If I happen to sell something online, I just integrate paypal IPN with my website. Its much more smarter to deal it this way, but may have some risk if the diasporan decides not to be honest and block you from accessing the accounts. Also if the diasporan dies, you will lose everything as noone will listen to your stories. Its a matter of weighing which risk is better.

  3. This article was covered in full on another zim site in February 2013 here: http://www.incomefreedomzim.com/opening-a-paypal-account-from-zimbabwe/
    You will find that Payoneer is running a promo “refer a friend and earn $25 for each friend you refer” from this site. The writer of the article also recommended Payoneer Pre-Paid MasterCard, use BancABC cards and also over 20 people where assisted as can be shown by the discussions on the comments thread.

  4. “PayPal: The safe way to pay and be paid”—LOL!

    “How to complain about PayPal in the UK”

    http://www.mukaumedia.co.uk/complain-paypal-uk/

    On this article, (currently) 410 negative comments on “PreyPal”—well worth a read for any small merchant using, or thinking of using, “PreyPal” to accept payments and who has not as yet had a problem with “PreyPal” because, when you do eventually have that problem, it could well be a serious business-threatening problem …

    “PayPal: ‘Aggressive changes’ coming to frozen funds policy”

    http://money.cnn.com/2013/01/21/technology/paypal-frozen-funds/

    Of the 368 comments currently on this article, see if you can find any that are complimentary of “PreyPal” …

    And, just for fun, another story from Anna Tims of the Guardian/Observer detailing an apparent systems failure at “PreyPal” that undoubtedly probably affected who knows how many people …
    http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/sep/01/paypal-refund-missing-money

    And another story from Anna Tims demonstrating eBay’s unconscionable lack of fair transaction mediation and hard-wired bias towards buyers; 324 readers’ comments on this story; see if you can find any that are complimentary of eBay …
    http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/dec/09/seller-beware-listing-ebay

    The Solution …

    Most eBay merchants will have at least two eBay accounts: one for selling and one for buying; likewise, all “PreyPal” users should have two “PreyPal” accounts: one to use when buying, attached to a credit card only (for the greater, and statutory, security offered by the credit card), and one for selling, attached to a bank account only with receipts to be transferred automatically and promptly to that bank account.

    Under no circumstances should anyone—particularly an eBay merchant—leave funds “on deposit” in eBay’s clunky, unlicensed, non-FDIC-insured, “pretend” bank, or allow “PreyPal” to draw funds directly from their real bank account—for any reason; if there is a dispute, particularly if you are the seller, you will find that your money will have gone “poof” and, if you read their thousand-page terms of business, you will find that you have no recourse short of getting big media to publicize the matter or, ultimately, possibly the courts. Regardless, if, as a merchant, you have a problem with “PreyPal”, with their atrocious customer support, it could well be a business-threatening problem …

    “PreyPal”, is not a licensed bank, only a “merchant of sorts” (PayPal’s own words), in the main, doing little more than operating a retail bank credit card merchant account (with the infamous Wells Fargo Bank), and, as such, “PreyPal” has to accept the terms of business of the credit card companies and therein lays your only guarantee, as a payer, of a fair mediation process in the event of any dispute—from MasterCard/Visa, not from the clunky “PreyPal” …

  5. Payment Transaction Dispute Moderation

    PayPal’s non-defense of credit card charge-backs …

    The credit card transaction dispute moderation process provided by the real banks is fair and balanced and the best you are ever likely to get; I have experienced it as both buyer and business seller and have had no complaints. The problem for a seller with a credit card charge-back via “PreyPal” (and possibly via any of the other payments pretenders who operate, like “PreyPal”, as little more than credit card merchants with their own retail bank) is that “PreyPal” will not spend the time (ie, the expensive human resources) to defend such a chargeback even if it is defensible; they simply take the most cost efficient way for them to deal with the matter, and that is to acquiesce to the chargeback and let the seller carry the can. The reality is, anyone that accepts payments via “PreyPal” does so at their peril …

    The suggestion is that this—most unprofessional—situation has been brought about because the credit card companies have put “PreyPal” on notice that they are not happy with all the extra transaction dispute moderation work that “PreyPal” has been creating for them with the apparently increasing number of charge-backs being instigated by payers on PayPal’s merchant account; for the same reason “PreyPal” has been much more aggressive with holds (sometimes lengthy) on payee’s funds, in anticipation of any possible charge-backs …

    Regardless, the lesson is, if you are a buyer using “PreyPal”, never allow “PreyPal” to access your funds by direct debit from a bank account; if you do, you have no protection at all—from “PreyPal”; if you are a seller, all you can initially do is cross your fingers …

  6. “Omaha Man Sentenced for Wire Fraud”

    http://www.wowt.com/home/headlines/Omaha-Man-Sentenced-for-Wire-Fraud-235140291.html?ref=291

    “Prosecutors say Roth obtained a bank account number, user name and password of a First National Bank customer. He used that information to open a PayPal account in that customer’s name and was then able to transfer money from the bank account to the PayPal account.”

    “… and was then able to transfer money from the bank account to the PayPal account.”

    That part of the statement is disingenuous tosh I suspect. It would appear that “PreyPal” was the fraudster’s dupe in that it would have been “PreyPal” taking the money from the bank account via direct debits—without a valid authorization from the real account holder …

    That this type of fraud is able to happen is due to “PreyPal” not satisfactorily, nor independently, verifying their own users—clunkity, clunk, clunk, clunk …

    The article also suggests that the scammer had the customer’s bank account password. Now, how could the scammer get that password, and if he had it, why would he not simply take the funds directly from the bank account? Why would he involve eBay/PayPal in his fraud?

    Methinks this story has been filtered to obscure the fact that direct debits made by supposedly responsible financial institutions (ie, real banks; Wells Fargo, in the case of “PreyPal”) on behalf of the intermediate payee (“PreyPal”) do not individually require the immediate approval of the bank account owner.

    The only way to stop this particular type of fraud is for consumers (or the real banks) to not let the clunky “PreyPal” anywhere near their bank accounts …

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