TECH TALK: UK-based startup comes to ease freelancers’ payment woes

TECH TALK: UK-based startup comes to ease freelancers’ payment woes

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CEO Farrukh Mian puts his money on Pakistani freelance market and a lack of cheap payment gateways. Not long ago, there were news stories everywhere of PayPal refusing to enter the Pakistani market and how it will impact the massive local freelancing community, which has always struggled with payments due to lack of reliable and cheap channels. And that’s the problem a Pakistan-focused startup has decided to take head on. PaySay is a fintech, headquartered in UK with an offshore office in Lahore, that aims to enable local freelancers and education academies receive payments from Europe by offering them a UK-based bank account. The process is very simple: open the website, enter the freelancers page, sign up using an email address and the system will generate UK account details for you in a matter of seconds with details like sort code, account number among others. You can then use these with your foreign clients who then wouldn’t have to pay you through an international bank transfer, saving both parties from the inconvenience. Once you have money in your account, you can either cash it out or transfer it to your local bank. Does this mean you will have a fully functioning UK-based account with bank card or an app to do your transactions? No. “It can only be accessed through the PaySay platform. Technically, these are sub-accounts distributed and managed through us as one can’t sign up with a British bank if they are not based in UK. This is why it’s not possible to directly use the bank’s portal,” says CEO Farrukh Mian. At the moment, they have three digital banks (similar to SimSim in Pakistan) – Tide, Viva Wallet and Starling — on board and customers are given accounts from one of these institutions. The startup was founded by Farrukh Mian, Zahid Khan and Dr Philip Mendrzyk — veterans in payments, software and financial services — and was commercially launched early 2017. “At my previous job, I was working specifically within the remittance side and saw the initial days of the likes of TransferWise, WorldRemit and Azimo, which is where I got the inspiration from and realised the need for some innovation in the industry,” Mian recalls. PaySay started out as a hybrid remittance service: bringing together the Western Union model of high street vendor network and the relatively new digital service as offered by TransferWise and others. But since then, they have entered new lines of business, including payment solutions for freelancers and online education academies that have clientèle in UK. Currently, the local freelancing community mostly depends on PayPal accounts of friends and family abroad; Payoneer (which does operate in Pakistan) — two global brands with wide recognition in the industry. So how does a much smaller player hope to take them on in their own backyard? “The former has the unnecessary hassle of getting multiple layers involved, and the latter charges exorbitant fees, making it a highly expensive alternative solution,” says the CEO, adding […]

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