Regulatory changes aimed at combating money laundering mean that the some of the services offered by PayPal are no longer available to foreigners in Thailand.
It is almost one year to the day since PayPal first announced that it was relaunching its services in Thailand.
The relaunch was necessary in order for the company to comply with new regulations in Thailand after the government overhauled regulation of the country’s fintech sector.
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In order to comply with the regulations, only those with a registered business account would be able to use PayPal to send and receive money and pay for goods and services online.
It meant that anyone with a personal account would no longer be able to use the service.
Then in March of this year, regulators gave PayPal a last minute reprieve meaning users were able to keep their accounts.
However, earlier this week PayPal began contacting personal account holders in Thailand to say that they will not be able to use the service after December 15, 2022 if they do not verify their identity through the National Digital ID platform before 30 Nov 2022.
And herein lies the problem for foreigners.
In order to be registered in the National Digital ID platform, you are required to have a Thai national ID number.
“Other forms of identification which do not have a 13-digit Thai national ID number, such as a non-Thai passport, work permit, non-Thai Identification card (pink ID), or Thai Permanent Resident Permit cannot be accepted,” PayPal says in its email.
The government’s National Digital ID program is used to identify users online and is a requirement for banks and other financial institutions operating in Thailand’s financial sector.
“Financial services providers like PayPal are obliged under Thai law to verify the identity of their customers, which helps us keep PayPal safe for everyone using it,” PayPal said.
For those with a registered business account, the situation is better.
“Account holders with registered businesses are not affected by this current stage of our relaunch in any way,” PayPal told Hua Hin Today via email.
Alternatives to PayPal in Thailand?
While it may have once been the case that it was either PayPal or nothing in the digital money space that certainly isn’t the case today.
At one time it was pretty the only option, but as with anything in the tech world, things change and change quickly.
Best alternatives to PayPal for freelancers with clients overseas
For freelancers in Thailand who need to receive payments from clients overseas, Payoneer and Skrill are arguably two of the best alternatives.
Where Skrill benefits over PayPal are in its transaction costs. PayPal can typically charge fees to merchants from 4.5%. However, Skrill charges anywhere from 2.5% to 4%. For private users, Skrill charges zero fees for deposits and withdrawals, as well as sending and receiving money.
While Payoneer clients include Amazon, Airbnb and Google, the platform works equally well for freelancers and small businesses. Sign up to Payoneer is very easy. Once sign up is complete, the user can essentially use their Payoneer account in lieu of their bank account to send and receive payments. For freelancers, Payoneer makes it easy to bill customers worldwide in multiple currencies.
Best alternatives to PayPal for business in Thailand
For businesses in Thailand or people selling goods or services domestically, there are a variety of e-wallet or payment service providers that are much more suitable alternatives.
All of Thailand’s major banks offer some form of payment transfer platform that allow businesses to accept payments from customers, such as K-Payment Gateway (Kasikorn Bank), Merchant iPay (Bangkok Bank)or Krungsri Biz Payment Gateway
Services such as 2C2P are similar to PayPal and already more widely used in Thailand and throughout Southeast Asia.
Other services such as PromptPay enables users to easily send and receive funds in Thailand using a mobile phone number via online or mobile banking or via an ATM.
Best alternative to PayPal for transferring money in to Thailand
PayPal was actually never the best service to use for anyone who regularly transfers money into Thailand. There are a variety of other services that are not only cheaper but much faster when it comes to transferring money from abroad to Thailand.
For anyone who makes regular international transfers or for those expats who need to transfer money into Thailand each month for immigration requirements, such as for a retirement extension, then Wise (formerly known as Transferwise) is the best option by some distance.
Wise dubs itself “a cheaper way to send money internationally”. It’s main benefit is that it offers real exchange rates and does not inflate it with any hidden fees.
This means it charges a fraction of the fees that the same transfer would cost with PayPal.
For example, to transfer 1,000 USD to Thailand, Wise would charge approximately 10 USD in fees, compared to 45 USD using PayPal.
Best alternative to PayPal for sending money out of Thailand
DeeMoney is one of the few services that enables people to send money out of Thailand, hassle free.
The service, licensed by the Bank of Thailand allows people to send money to 35+ countries, including the UK, Australia, United States, Singapore, Hong Kong and Philippines.
There is a flat fee for transfers which begins from 150 baht. A transfer can be made directly into a bank account overseas.
*This post has been updated after Hua Hin Today received clarification from PayPal regarding the changes. PayPal confirmed the ongoing relaunch of its service does not affect business accounts. Hua Hin Today apologises for any confusion caused.