The PayPal India Suspended Transaction Services and Farhad Irani
15 February 2010
We anticipated PayPal would make a statement this week regarding suspension of personal transactions into India. PayPal remained predictable. On February 14th, "Day 19", Farhad Irani the lead for the PayPal business in Asia Pacific posted a letter on the PayPal Blog. A copy of the letter is attached to this article.
The letter contained Farhad Irani's "sincere apologies for the inconvenience", and not much else. The else being two paragraphs regarding taking money out of a credit card for a "five USD fee". Presumably to make up for the cash PayPal is holding.
And two paragraphs providing tacit confirmation that PayPal business accounts were affected;
- "help the thousands of Indian businesses who use PayPal"
- "We were hoping that our merchant customers would be able to start withdrawing their funds at their local bank by today, but it looks like this will still take some more time.".
Otherwise, as India colleagues surmise, many PayPal India customers will have to wait, according to PayPal, "months" for their money.
Remember The New York Times article?
India's Central Bank Stops Some PayPal Services
The New York Times
Heather Timmons and Claire Cain Miller
February 10, 2010
"“Providers of cross-border money transfer service need prior authorization from the Reserve Bank under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act,” a spokeswoman for the Reserve Bank of India, Alpana Killawalla, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “PayPal does not have our authorization.”
Currently some people with no official capacity to speak for PayPal are spinning 'it's the fault of the India government. As we noted previously, when a business fails to comply with the law, it is the fault of the business.
While Farhad Irani became Singapore based "leader of PayPal’s business in the region and as a fellow Indian" in April 2009, how could someone with "more than 25 years of experience in retail banking" Not know about the India Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007? Considering the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) posted the following public press release.
Date : 01 Sep 2008
Payment and Settlement Systems Act, and Regulations come into effect
The Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 (51 of 2007) and the Payment and Settlement Systems Regulations, 2008 have been notified and have come into effect from August 12, 2008. The Payment and Settlement Systems Act stipulates that no person other than the Reserve Bank, shall commence or operate a payment system except under and in accordance with an authorisation issued by the Reserve Bank under the provisions of the Act.
All persons currently operating a payment system or desirous of setting up a payment system, as defined in Section 2(1)(i) of the Act should apply for authorisation to the Reserve Bank, unless specifically exempted in terms of the Act. Existing payment systems will cease to have the right to carry on their operations, unless they obtain an authorisation within six months from the commencement of the Act (i.e., 12th August 2008).
The Payment and Settlement Systems Regulations, 2008 detail the form and manner in which the application is to be made to the Reserve Bank for grant of authorisation. The Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 and The Payment and Settlement Systems Regulations, 2008 are available on the website of Reserve Bank.
Which means prior to January 27th, PayPal had six months plus almost a year to receive RBI authorization, and did not.
- "I’m personally committed to working closely and tirelessly with the Reserve Bank of India to get a fast resolution to this issue" Farhad Irani, 14 February 2010
One wonders what he was doing post April 2009?
With PayPal weeds also spinning authorization is time consuming and difficult for a United States company like PayPal to obtain, perhaps it would be helpful to see who is licensed.
It turns out there is an interesting document concerning companies certified by the RBI.
Systems Act, 2007 for Setting up and Operating Payment System in India
The Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 along with the Board for Regulation and Supervision of Payment and Settlement Systems Regulations, 2008 and the Payment and Settlement Systems Regulations, 2008 have come into effect from 12th August, 2008.
The 'payment systems' operators authorised by the Reserve Bank of India to set up and operate in India under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 are as under:
Position as on January 31, 2010
Contained within is a list of compliant United States companies, and when they were certified.
- Cards Payment Network
- American Express Banking Corp, March 31 2009
- Master Cards International Incorporated, March 31 2009
- Visa International Services Association, USA, March 31 2009
- Cross border Money Transfer - in-bound only
- Buyindiaonline.com Inc, January 18 2010
- MoneyGram Payment Systems Inc., May 25 2009
- Royal Exchange (USA) Inc., May 25 2009
- Western Union Financial Services Incorporated, March 31 2009
Save for the new Buyindiaonline.com, it appears United States companies were able to be complaint, in 2009.
Perhaps as a friend noted, one or more of these PayPal competitors asked the RBI why in 2010 was PayPal operating in violation of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, while they were compliant with the Act in 2009?
Probably a coincidence PayPal's owner eBay bans MoneyGram and Western Union payments.
Apologies for the "transaction" typo in previous articles.
'It’s more concerning that a company such as Paypal could “overlook” such an important regulation.
I think this is really telling of the level of people at the top within Paypal, surely some heads have rolled for this…unforgivable, and we have to trust them with our money, I wonder what else is being “overlooked”.'
An Open Letter from Farhad Irani on the Situation in India
Hi. My name is Farhad Irani and I lead the PayPal business in Asia Pacific. As the leader of PayPal’s business in the region and as a fellow Indian, I want you to know that we are sparing no effort in ensuring that the present day inconvenience in not being able to process the bank withdrawal functionality in India for sellers is quickly and completely addressed. This is the single most important item for me and my management team. My sincere apologies for the inconvenience you must be facing.
I’d like to let everyone know that I’m personally committed to working closely and tirelessly with the Reserve Bank of India to get a fast resolution to this issue, so that we can continue to help the thousands of Indian businesses who use PayPal to sell their goods or services in the global marketplace. India is a very special market for me and your continued success is very precious to us.
We were hoping that our merchant customers would be able to start withdrawing their funds at their local bank by today, but it looks like this will still take some more time. I understand your frustration and want to let you know that we are doing everything we can to free your funds.
It has always been possible for sellers to request a check or withdraw funds to a credit card, and these options are still available from the Withdraw Money tab of your PayPal account. If you don’t have a credit card attached to your PayPal account now, you can add one under the Profile section of your PayPal account. Before asking for a credit card withdrawal, please check with your card issuing bank to ensure that they can process it.
It usually takes five to seven working days for you to receive a check when you request a check withdrawal and PayPal normally charges a five USD fee. We are trying our best to help sellers during this difficult time and therefore will refund the check withdrawal fee back to your PayPal account within a week. I appreciate that this is not ideal, but please bear with us.
I’d like to let you know that I’m listening to your concerns. This is my direct PayPal email address: Farhad@paypal.com. Feel free to send me an email.