While there are a lot of reviews comparing various freelancing websites, few do it from the perspective of a Pakistani. I have taken the time out to do a little bit of research to identify which website is most suitable for us, in terms of cost and payment methods.
There are a number of freelancing websites out there that allow Pakistani workers to work on projects and then get paid on them. However, a lot of Pakistanis have problems receiving payments from abroad because we cannot have a Paypal account in Pakistan and relying on the postal system to receive checks via snail mail is not a preferred option.
This series will talk about the pros and cons of the major online freelancing marketplaces from our perspective. We will start with:
Previously known as Rent-a-Coder, Vworker is one of the fastest growing online freelancing marketplaces out there. This website is free to sign up for, and you can place as many bids as you want. They have a lot of fantastic employers, many of whom are also Pakistani.
The interface is simple and easy to use, and the number of features is impressive. There are a number of types of projects you can bid on, ranging from outsourcing, to crowd-sourcing, to trial-sourcing.
The payment methods open to Pakistanis are quite limited.
Western Union is very expensive - Vworker takes $10 to process international payments and Western Union then deducts a whopping 15% as fees! To sum it up, if you earn $110 on a job, you pay $10 to Vworker when you are withdrawing the money, and then $15 to Western Union. You will be left with only $90.
However, Western Union has certain advantages, particularly for Pakistanis. We get a good exchange rate at Western Union offices. Moreover, there are hundreds of Western Union branches all over the country and you merely have to give them a copy of your CNIC card as well as your payment number (which Vworker issues) and you get the cash in PKR.
Snail Mail Check is very unreliable. The Vworker website reads:
(This method is NOT recommended to workers in Pakistan or minor Indian cities, as the mail system tends to be less reliable in these cases.)Vworker charges $10 to send a check through snail mail. I believe local banks also charge a significant fee to deposit a foreign currency check into a PKR bank account, although I cannot verify this as I have never received my payments using this method.
Payoneer is reliable and quick but it can end up being quite expensive. They issue a prepaid MasterCard debit card to people who can then use it to make electronic purchases at any place that accepts MasterCard, or withdraw it at ATM machines which accept MasterCard (in Pakistan, these include Standard Chartered Bank, Faysal Bank* and Muslim Commercial Bank).
Payoneer charges $24.99 as a one time activation fee that Pakistanis must pay, as opposed to a $9.99 fee for some other countries.The Vworker site reads:
Warning: To prevent identity theft, money laundering and terrorist financing, government regulations require Payoneer to perform additional due diligence on customers in certain countries. This process (enhanced KYC) requires a scanned copy of your ID and an additional activation fee of $24.95. Enhanced KYC is required in Angola, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Sao Tome and Principe, Turkmenistan, Albania, Belarus, Bosnia Herzegovina, Côte D’Ivoire, Congo, Iraq, Kosovo, Lebanon, Liberia, Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Somalia, and Zimbabwe.
Vworker charges $5.00 for each payment you make to your Payoneer card, and Payoneer charges $2 to load it ($5 if you want to load it instantly. Otherwise it can take a few business days). Payoneer also has a monthly fee of $3 ($1 if you have more than three transactions, either through ATM or purchasing from shops etc in the previous month) but this is not deducted from your account if you do not have sufficient money there during the course of the month; i.e. your Payoneer account can never become negative. Besides this, there is a $2.15 fee for each ATM withdrawal you make. To top it all off, you get a poor exchange rate in Pakistan. The exchange rate is Rs.90/$ but our banks only give Rs. 87/$. This amount can build up if you are withdrawing a lot of money.
While the fees may sound like a lot, Payoneer is not only quick but reliable. I have been using them for a long period of time now and I have never had any issues with them.
Payoneer also offers another option to workers on Vworker. Their international bank transfer service can transfer money to most banks in Pakistan. The base fee for this in Pakistan is $14.95 ($5 Vworker fee + $9.95 Payoneer fee). Along with this, you are charged for currency conversation by Payoneer if your bank account is not in USD.
Skrill, more commonly known as Moneybookers, is the latest addition by Vworker on the special request of various Pakistani contractors. Vworker transfers money to your Skrill account for $2.00, whereas Skrill charges EUR1.80 per withdrawal. Moreover, a rate of 1.99% has been applied for currency converssion by Skrill.
Moneybookers had a fantastic reputation amongst Pakistani contractors until, coincidentally, Vworker began offering their withdrawal services. There have been complaints of additional fees, delays and missing money with their services over the past couple of months.
*only those branches of Faysal Bank that were once owned by Royal Bank of Scotland accept MasterCard. Look for the MasterCard logo on the machine. DO NOT insert your card in machine that does not accept MasterCard