TransferWise (also known as Wise), a popular financial service used by freelancers to transfer payments to Pakistani accounts, is temporarily blocked by a number of Pakistani Internet service providers (ISPs).
Multiple internet service providers appear to have implemented the ban, suggesting that the PTA is attempting to block the service in the country.
While we were unable to acquire official confirmation from the PTA, the fact that the TransferWise mobile app and website are inoperable suggests it is likely due to a blocking pattern initiated by the PTA. A MoITT representative stated that they had no knowledge of this and that the State Bank of Pakistan handles remittances.
We are currently unsure of the cause for the ban, but it appears that the government may be concerned about the flight of money, which led to the ban. However, it is amusing that the freelancers utilise TransferWise to send dollars to Pakistan rather than the other way around.
Pakistani freelancers and internet enterprises may encounter further obstacles. In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult for Pakistani IT companies and independent contractors to operate with international clients and receive payment to a Pakistani bank.
TransferWise is one of the few providers that support the instant transfer of US dollars from abroad to Pakistani banks. TransferWise’s closure in Pakistan is expected to make the life of IT companies and independent contractors more difficult.
It should also be highlighted that dollars entering Pakistan via IT businesses and freelancers are subject to several checks and can take several days to clear, making it extremely difficult to transfer dollars into Pakistan.
In contrast, if you utilise hawala or hundi services, not only is the process seamless, but the exchange rates are at least 7 to 10 percent better, which may encourage IT companies to use illegal channels to move payments to Pakistan.