Friday, 10 February 2012

Best Freelancing Websites for Pakistanis - PART 2 - oDesk

Hi all,

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. The next website we will be looking at is: 

oDesk is amongst the leading online freelancing marketplaces on the internet today. It boasts hosting the more online work than anywhere else on the web, with over 1 million jobs posted and contractors earning more than $220 million in 2011 alone. 
oDesk is completely free to join, and it is free to apply for projects as well. However, oDesk users must go through several stages of verification before they can post unlimited bids at one time. New users who do not take any verification tests can only send out two job applications at a time. 
oDesk takes its Pakistani community very seriously. They have several payment options that are well suited to Pakistanis. Besides this, they have a dedicated sub-forum for Pakistani employers and contractors to discuss their issues and exchange ideas. 

There are a number of payment methods for Pakistani contractors.
Wire Transfer (PKR) is a relatively new payment method introduced by oDesk. It is a direct bank transfer from oDesk to your local PKR bank account in Pakistan. At the moment, only 11 banks are eligible for this transfer. According to the oDesk website, these include: 
  • Habib Bank Ltd.
  • National Bank of Pakistan
  • United Bank Ltd.
  • MCB Bank Ltd.
  • Allied Bank Ltd.
  • Bank al Falah Ltd.
  • Habib Metropolitan Bank Ltd.
  • Bank of Punjab Ltd.
  • KASB Bank Ltd.
  • JS bank Ltd.
  • Dubai Islamic Bank Ltd.
oDesk charges a flat rate of $4.99 per withdrawal, and they offer the first Wire Transfer to Pakistanis for free. The exchange rates they offer are also competitive, and local bank charges are minimized because all transactions are occurring in PKR. The exact time it takes for the wire transfer to be completed is uncertain, but many people believe time maximum time a transfer can take is approximately ten business days.

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.
oDesk charges $2.00 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.

Skrill, more commonly known as Moneybookers, transfers money to your Skrill account for $1.00, 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 recently, when there were widespread complaints of additional fees, delays and missing money with their services over the past couple of months. Skrill has undergone several internal changes, which have reduced its credibility in the eyes of many Pakistani contractors. 

*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


  1. Very Nice.I really enjoy being a freelance programmer. I do all my work over the internet. I use freelancing platforms like they have a great escrow payment system and bidding system that is reliable and safe. I must admit, when I first started, it was a little tough, but with sheer determination I’m now an independent programmer and web designer.

  2. Hey thank u soooo much for the helpful post.Cheers :)

    1. My pleasure entirely! Glad it helped. Happy earning!


  4. When i use to Direct Bank Transfer/Local Funds Transfer for withdraw so $ Automatically change into Pkr ???

    1. It will show as $ in your account but since you can only withdraw PKR from local ATMs, you will receive all cash in PKR. You will get charged an additional 3% for standard currency conversion charges.


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