So as you already know by now, PayPal is busy screwing small Indian SMBs and independent freelancers who rely on the service to send and receive payments. This is definitely not the first time this has happened, and will definitely not be the last one.
In a recent email and blog post, PayPal said that they will be restraining Indian users from using the money in their PayPal account to purchase anything along with putting a stipulation that they have to withdraw the money within 7 days. In addition to that, they have also said that Indian users cannot accept payments more than $500.
Many users have been blaming the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for this, but most of them haven’t done any fact-checking as such and are just blaming it because they feel that PayPal has no faults whatsoever. So I sat down with one of my roommates who has been an ex-RBI employee who has worked with them for 7 years to understand why this is happening.
Let me take you through this. First of we take a look at why PayPal cannot keep your money with them for more than 7 days and then delve into the $500 restriction they will be putting into place. Here is the actual conversation edited in some form by me without changing the details.
Me: So PayPal says that they cannot keep the money in their account for more than 7 days? Why is this happening.
RBI-expert: Because if PayPal keeps the money with them, they have to be regulated as a bank (and any institution that does it have to do the same) and PayPal does not want that to happen. Any entity which provides on-demand payments have to be regulated as a bank as per RBI rules, this is mandated because if they hold money for more than 7 days they have to provide users with interest. With this new change PayPal is basically circumnavigating this regulation so that they don’t have to answer questions to any government about how they conduct business and why they charge an exorbitant amount to customers to accept payments whilst continuing to not giving users interest like every other bank in India does.
Me: So you are saying that PayPal is practically f*cking all Indians.
RBI-expert: No I wouldn’t say that, but I would say that their business heads know how to circumnavigate against a country’s policies and that they are adamant about accepting regulations because that would mean that they have to cut down on their charges and also ensure that they do follow all guidelines laid down for a bank.
Me: Ok, so I see that they are screwing their customers with a hefty fee and now this. I do understand that they want to make money, but what is about $500 transaction limit.
RBI-expert: Well, once again this is a government and RBI mandated thing. All entities who bring cash-flow into India have to basically report transactions above $500 to the RBI and government. PayPal is basically just circumnavigating around this mandate by restricting the payments to $500. Once they do this, they have no obligation to report it to the RBI or the Indian government.
Me: So you are basically saying that these new changes by PayPal is just about screwing the RBI, Indian Government and people who use their service.
RBI-expert: Well, these are the rules. I will simply say this. If PayPal accepts the RBI regulations they have to be treated a bank and I can see that they are hell bent on not doing it. They are basically finding ways to get over it because once they become a bank they come under a different set of rules. Right now PayPal is a monetary service but they are not like say SBI, ICICI, HSBC or Citibank and do not have to adhere to the rules. Once you become a bank, you have stringent rules which I don’t think PayPal wants to follow.
So as you can see, from the above conversation which came through from a horse’s mouth, I feel that PayPal is basically cheating the RBI, Indian government and Indian users because they don’t want to be regulated. All I can say is that we need to boycott these services, check out some PayPal alternatives.
Though these things may make my statement that RBI is in no fault at this sound untrue, but you have to understand that these rules have been in place in 2004 and some of them since 1999. So saying that RBI is screwing PayPal is basically wrong. PayPal has been floundering these rules since they came into India and the RBI is just reining them in. They might have given them an option to change to being a bank or stop flouting the rules laid down by the Government of India. I believe you will understand what PayPal chose to do.
PayPal has also been blocked or regulated in countries such as Japan, Brazil, USA among others. Some of these countries have put in similar restrictions on in place which were also done last year in India. So it does not really make sense to say that RBI is the only one who is regulating PayPal.
This post has been updated with additional inputs and facts.