Why Sri Lanka Doesn’t Have PayPal

Impressionistic photo of PayPal sponsored SSC cricketer by Mafaz.

In two words, the Central Bank. Out of fear of money laundering or whatever, they aren’t taking the simple steps to enable Sri Lankan businesses to compete online. Seriously, there is no efficient or simple payment gateway. The ones the banks do are all closed, ugly and actually insecure. Other international suppliers like 2Checkout or MoneyBookers are not nearly as simple. I’m not saying PayPal is great, but it’s good. The Central Bank really needs to get it together.

Yesterday at Refresh Colombo, someone (let him remain anon here at least) from a bank said that PayPal has been trying to get into SL but the Central Bank is holding it back, essentially for regulatory reasons. In fact, Mafaz sent me the photo above of PayPal sponsoring the SSC cricket club. He chose to go macro on the chain link fence cause he’s artistic, but you can kinda see.

Another major thing the Central Bank is sitting on is mobile payments, right now you have to be a bank to process payments online, but the banks are not smart or fast enough. Telcos kinda do it, but under the radar, all because the Central Bank and regulations are getting in the way.

Now, while I understand the Central Banks concerns and need to ‘watch’ transactions dozens of other countries have sorta figured this out and allowed their citizen to conduct international internet business. Seriously, what’s stopping you guys? I will fill out whatever form, wear an ankle bracelet, even sign over my first born child to be able to be able to earn money relatively painlessly online. Same thing for access to income from Google and Apple App Stores.

I dunno about the latters, but on PayPal, the Central Bank is definitely holding us back. Central Bank Governor Cabraal is speaking at some forum on April 6th 5th I think. I’m gonna ask.

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2012-03-23 14:15:05

Paypal is the bomb. Makes things so much easier. Except the scary thing is that the US government can dictate to Paypal what it wants – like preventing donations to wikileaks.

2012-03-24 00:41:45

Paypal is really crap from an end user point of view. It is horrible to use.

2012-03-23 14:40:54

Most IPGs cost somewhere between 50 k to a 100 k to sign up and takes about 3-4% off each transaction, this is a killer for e-commerce.

2012-03-23 14:45:33

And they suck. The Sampath Bank gateway is really ugly and dodgy looking, and the HSBC one has actually shown me someone else’s details on the confirmation screen once.

2012-03-23 15:18:27

[...] people to earn money online. Allow easy mobile commerce for everyone. This are all things that the Central Bank is sitting on, and it’s really hurting Sri [...]

2012-03-23 18:54:54

One of my friends figured out how to make a fake Malaysian paypal account and get your money through that. ;)

2012-03-23 20:11:04

Creating an account in another country is what most people do. In fact PayPal recommends to do it for the ones who bother to ask. I tried this with an Indian account and then close that avenue by asking for some IMF no or something. Then I tried Brazilian and they also closed that down by introducing some Brazilian social security no etc. Now I’m getting them via a friend. However this becomes a serious problem if you want to sell something online because most people prefer to pay through PayPal. I sincerely hope this gets resolved soon. Now off to try the Malaysian account ;)

2012-03-23 20:16:53

Sri Lanka’s can have PayPal. But they can’t receive money. If PayPal fully functional is SL, that would be a great for our economy & eCommerce.

We have 3 PayPal Certified Developers.
https://www.paypal-portal.com/developer/directory/#Asia Pacific

2012-03-24 00:39:43

Indi, you’re absolutely correct. I have dealt with banks to get the only Sri Lankan based IPG’s and their attitude towards who should be their customers is almost as if they do not want or care about our business to them, this is especially the case with small businesses, obviously bigger business works with what they have no matter how bureaucratic.

This also has to be because they currently hold a monopoly. I wouldn’t be surprised if the bankers and the monopoly driven developers of the current IPG’s available are the ones who are stopping from other operators coming into business inside Sri Lanka.

We should start our own home grown IPG with a better emphasis on the merchants and indirectly ease up the regulations and possibly even link up with other operators. There are lots of people who want to make money on their google ads, anrodid/apple apps but decide not to do so because its not viable.

2012-03-24 08:43:51

There are rumors that we could get paypal credits from commercial bank.

2012-07-11 12:57:25

Fuck Sri Lanka! they are really better to fuck themself…

2012-03-28 11:22:06

[...] We can pay through PayPal, but we can’t earn. This cripples online business here. I’ve written more about this in the [...]

2012-03-28 22:30:51

Money laundering is one of the fast growing industries in this country, aided with a nod and a wink from the powers-that-be. They don’t like outsiders engaging in it, so everyone else needs to comply but bankers can tell you what goes on.

There are several listed companies on the stock exchange that have, shall we say, very dubious, things going on, accounts/business plans that no one can make sense of. Some know what goes on, and the authorities look the other way, its any game for foreign exchange and since its profit. Look carefully at a few of the popular ‘penny stocks’ and see what you find.

2012-03-28 22:32:00

edit: since its profitable, everyone is happy.

2012-04-10 23:05:40


2012-06-03 04:34:01

Since there are idiots who are playing with EPF/ETF in central bank sri lanka, how can they realize the effectiveness of granting receive money option to Sri Lanka in pay-pal.

2012-06-07 11:11:14

Wow. I never knew that Paypal is trying to give their full service to our country. If there is any arrangement to sign a petition or something, I am with you. Please let me know.ok.

2012-07-11 16:30:12

[...] I’m MOST excited for when I can start accepting mobile payments online because – in the absence of PayPal (receiving) in Sri Lanka – small businesses have to really struggle to set up [...]

2012-07-15 16:03:49

“Central Bank Governor Cabraal is speaking at some forum on April 6th 5th I think. I’m gonna ask.”.

Did you ask?

2012-08-17 17:36:43

SAme question I have :)

2012-10-13 22:14:08

Yes, Indi what did he say?

(Comments wont nest below this level)
2012-12-17 22:29:36

Yeah.. What Cabral said to you?

2012-08-10 19:14:42

Sri Lankan Government needs to dig into blinds spots of this economy, For Example Bringing Online Payment Services like Paypal to fully support Sri Lanka in Receiving and Withdrawing Money, Which will enable a number of job opportunities an
d underpin SME’s to sell their products in the Cyberspace. We are currently working our way up to make it happen by petitioning The Sri Lankan Government, Central Bank of Ceylon and PayPal Pte. Please Sign off the Petition on the following link if you believe this needs to be done. http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/enable-receiving-money-to-sri-lanka-through-paypal ——– PayPalForSriLanka

Sapumal Jayaratne
2012-08-22 19:35:52

I personally requested this from some top people early in 2007. As usual I think they might have forget the request in the next day.

If you need to do e-business, just incorporate a company in US. It is easy and can do as a Sri Lankan citizen. You might need to find some shareholders there, but you can do everything smoothly.

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