Payment platform PayPal accused of discriminating against Palestinians

The payment platform PayPal, a widely used financial transaction tool around the world, is not available to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. This has been controversial in recent days, as the company's services are available in Israel, but also for Israeli settlers who also live in the West Bank. "This amounts to blatant discrimination," say rights activists.

The online payment platform PayPal is not accessible to residents of the Palestinian Territories. AFP/File

Text by: Alice Froussard Follow


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From our correspondent in Ramallah,

Last week, eleven members of the US Congress sent a letter to PayPal CEO Dan Schulman asking the company to open its services to the Palestinians. An initiative shared with 7amleh, an NGO specialized in the defense of digital rights.

PayPal provides services throughout the state of Israel but does not allow Palestinians to access its services.

— 7amleh حملة (@7amleh) May 24, 2023

Because, the letter states, "denying Palestinians access to PayPal services, this tool for financial transactions, is a discriminatory practice. It means not giving them access to opportunities to work, other livelihoods, or to develop their economy." Their main argument is that the PayPal platform has no reason not to operate in the Occupied Territories.

PayPal yet accessible in conflict zones

Founded in 1998, the PayPal payment platform is already present in more than 200 countries, including Somalia and Yemen. Its stated goal is to "democratize financial services and empower people and businesses to thrive in the global economy." The problem is not structural either, since, says the campaign, other means of financial transactions have already settled in the Palestinian market without problem, such as Apple Pay, Visa, MasterCard or Swift.

Rights activists have been warning about this discrimination for some time. In October 2016, Palestinian business leaders met with one of PayPal's officials. Since last summer, there has also been a mobilization campaign on social networks – with the possibility of sending an email directly to PayPal and a petition that has already received 275,000 signatures. But nothing has changed.

Paying online, a lever for economic development

However, for entrepreneurs, businessmen, start-ups, freelancers, PayPal would be a considerable asset to expand their customer base, allowing them to have their own electronic payment system.

To this day, buying online in the Occupied Territories means ordering and then paying cash on delivery, thus restricting the clientele, preventing companies from expanding internationally. It would also be much easier, with PayPal, for Palestinian companies to establish an online presence and start accepting payments for their services, or even actively participate in the global market.

And it would make life easier for Palestinian freelance professionals, be they designers, developers or translators, who could get paid for their assignments and have clients abroad. A study by 7amleh confirms that if PayPal were available, 80% of Palestinians from all socio-economic groups would use it as a means of payment.

>> READ ALSO: In Gaza, the poor economic situation suffocates the inhabitants

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