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How Freelancers Get Paid In Bangladesh: Channels And Problems

Getting paid on time and efficiently is one of the most critical issues Bangladeshi freelancers face. Most of the existing payment services offer no real advantages as freelancers bear the burden of fees and delays. In the same vein, bank transfers are cumbersome as red tape and excessive procedures often make it difficult for people to withdraw money.

Most of the freelancers in Bangladesh get paid via online payment services available in the country like: Transpay, Moneybookers/Skrill, Paypal, Netteller, Payoneer Master Card, Payza etc. Freelancers on Upwork (previously Elance-Odesk), the top freelancing platform for Bangladeshis also allows its registered members to get paid through its integrated payment service. For majority of its transactions, Upwork uses Transpay’s technology, a fast and simple payment solution to process payments from overseas.

To understand the situation, we took time to speak with five prominent Bangladeshi freelancers to learn more about the way people get paid and problems they face. Here is what they have to say:

This story is the fourth of a four parts series we are running on Freelancing. The series is supported by Transpay, and prepared by FS StoryLab.

Zubair Russell, Founder, Zooba Network

“I do graphic design, motion graphic animation, and website design and website development. For payment, there are several online services to get money like Moneybookers/Skrill, Netteller, Payoneer. I use Moneybookers/skrill or Payoneer as it is convenient for me and I get paid quite easily on these platforms.”

When asked about problems of payment process, he replied, “Basically no problems occur while getting paid, except maybe fraud. However, the problems occur while withdrawing the money. There are extra charges from service providers and banks often ask for excessive documentation.”

Shuvanker Halder, Web Designer

“I usually get paid through web transfer and Western Union. On these platforms, probabilities of being cheated are very low.

It’s true that many freelancers face difficulties in getting paid in Bangladesh. Sometimes, if the work quality does not impress the client or the freelancer misses deadlines it results in payment delays or clients do not pay or pay less than the contract. This is a very common problem but one that can be solved.

However, when it comes to online payment services, there are all these setbacks and problems. Everyone promises a seamless service but it seldom happens. I know people who suffered delayed payment, ghost charges, fraud with services like Money Bookers /Skrill but you don’t have too many options. However, the expectation is that these services will get better over the time as competitive payment services enter the market.”

Niaz Makhdum, Online Blogger and Content Writer

“I follow a basic strategy for my freelance work so that I can avoid fraud issues. I work on an hourly basis and get paid through bank transfers and Moneybooker.

From my experience, I’ve seen that, “Indian subcontinent clients are prone to finding loopholes in the system and not follow contracts.”

Salim Sazzed, Mobile Apps developer

“Upwork, that uses bank transfer via Transpay, is safer for money transaction. When I work on Upwork platform, I use the integrated payment mechanism for getting money online. There are other alternative options like Payoneer MasterCard and so on.”

He added, “I think it’s better if a freelancer does project based work as payment is guaranteed from clients.”

Tareq Hasan, Co-founder of weDevs, one of the fast growing technology firms in Dhaka that extensively deals with foreign clients, put the whole case succinctly: “Those of us who sell software and SaaS products, we face payment problems if we do not have a business representative to help us from outside the country. Opening a bank account, getting a PayPal merchant account and getting a credit card gateway (Stripe, Braintree) are required for getting payment. Only then can we start selling software.”

He also mentioned 3rd party solutions like 2checkout, Plimus and others, but warned of the fact that they cannot be relied on 100% of the time. He highlighted a recent problem of a fellow entrepreneur whose 2checkout account was banned few months ago and he was desperate for his own PayPal, Bank, Credit Card gateways. Tareq concludes, “If we didn't have to rely on external services it would've be much simpler. But I guess it’s not going to happen very soon.”

Asmaul Husna is our first Editorial Fellow based in Dhaka. She looks after our Startup and Conversation with entrepreneurs, makers, and experts.

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