Freelance online sellers seek govt help after PayPal cancels transactions
The Creative Workers Union Thailand (CUT) submitted a letter to the House of Representatives’ Labour Committee earlier this week, complaining that the recent policy change by popular online payment service PayPal Thailand has affected freelance online sellers of goods and services.
PayPal announced last Saturday that as of March 7 consumers in Thailand would no longer be able to use their PayPal wallets to shop online or make and receive payments. They would, however, be able to transfer any balance in their PayPal wallet to their bank account. Meanwhile, new account registration for consumers will not be available until further notice.
PayPal also said that from March 7, existing PayPal accounts registered by freelancers, casual sellers and entrepreneurs/sole proprietors in Thailand would have limited functionality, except to make bank withdrawals. New account registration for freelancers or casual sellers will not be available until further notice.
The company added that it has been gradually updating its services and processes to ensure they comply with all applicable Thai laws, and that it has been working closely with relevant authorities to accelerate its relaunch and minimise disruption to customers.
In its letter, CUT said the new policy lacks clear details as to how freelancers and casual sellers can continue using the PayPal service, other than register themselves as a business, which is a lengthy process and will incur an additional fee.
CUT therefore asked the committee to urge PayPal Thailand to clarify the policy for freelancers and causal sellers before the March 7 deadline, or at least extend the deadline until a more suitable policy is issued.
The union also asked the committee to coordinate with the Commerce Ministry and relevant agencies in considering adjusting the business registration process so that freelancers can register as a commercial business more easily.
Meanwhile, more than 2,500 people have signed a petition on Change.org urging PayPal Thailand to come up with a policy specifically tailored for freelancers and casual sellers before March 7. The campaign page said that sellers on some websites, such as www.etsy.com, are severely affected as the websites list PayPal as the only acceptable payment method.
Arunee Numkate, a 37-year-old online seller of baby clothes, said she had been using PayPal as a payment method for foreign customers for about eight years now, and that she has 30,000 to 80,000 baht per month of transactions via PayPal.
“After PayPal announced that freelancer accounts would not be able to receive payments after March 7, I tried to register my business as a juristic person with the Commerce Ministry so I could re-register with PayPal as a business,” she said. “However, the business registration process is taking too long and probably won’t finish in time for the March 7 deadline, which means I will lose a lot of business due to this disruption.”
Arunee urged the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Thailand to coordinate with PayPal to reconsider the limitation on freelance accounts, adding that thousands of freelance online sellers are suffering from the same problem.
It is speculated that PayPal is apparently mired in the confusion sparked by Thailand’s move to overhaul its regulatory framework to accelerate financial technology and become a digital economy.
In other words, to operate here, PayPal must adhere to Thai laws, especially its anti-money laundering and tax legislation.