“In Africa, we only have PayPal. You know, we don’t have that many options and none of them are good. I feel like it’s very racist; it’s very intentional.
“I feel this whole thing is part of the grand design of keeping Africa out of economic development, to keep us needy always, to keep us unable to develop and grow.” — Sheila Amolo, a Kenyan fashion designer and cosplayer said of PayPal, as she narrated her experience using the financial service provider to FIJ.
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On Saturday, October 8, the #DeletePayPal and #PayPalCancelled actively trended on Twitter as users of the payment service protested the now-retracted ‘updated policy,’ that stated it would fine users $2,500 for ‘misinformation’.
While PayPal recanted its position in a written statement to National Review, another can of worms appears to have opened among the payment service’s African subscribers, with multiple users from across the continent criticising the organization for its ‘racist’ attitude towards them.
Several users were seen calling the financial service provider ‘racist’ in response to a tweet by @MarigaThoiti, which stated, ‘the world is finally seeing what PayPal has been doing to African countries for years’, and advised people to delete their PayPal account.
FIJ reached out to several of the users who had complained about PayPal’s services to Africans in an attempt to learn why many African users called PayPal racist.
When FIJ contacted Amolo to share her experience, she readily agreed, saying, “I think this issue should get coverage finally”.
Withheld Funds, Frozen Accounts — Paypal Users Recount Their Experiences
“From the very first time I received money, my account would get frozen for no reason.”
Amolo said this happened despite zero reports of suspicious activities on her account. But it was a pattern that continued until she chose to part ways with the financial service provider earlier this year.
Amolo explained that she used a Coffee account for her cosplay, and PayPal was the only service provider that bridged the payment gap between African countries and their clients overseas on Coffee, and that it was the most popular among western clients.
She stated that she opened a PayPal account, which she linked to her Coffee account, in 2020. But she wouldn’t be able to receive money through PayPal for months.
“I wouldn’t be able to do online jobs because I’d have to receive payment through PayPal.”
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In Jamal Ahmed’s* case, his account was “flagged for no reason”. He was asked for a proof of address and source of funds, which he provided.
“But they simply closed my account which had money in it, and told me I’d withdraw it in six months,” Ahmed said.
There were no provisions for Ahmed to contest the action, and he is still waiting for the sixth month.
Like Amolo and Ahmed, many others have experienced similar problems, but what has raised eyebrows is that several African subscribers appear to believe that the problems they are having with PayPal are exclusive to African users, and therefore racial in nature.
‘It’s That Racist Disdain, That Because We Are Africans, We Can Be Taken Advantage Of‘
Amolo told FIJ that after receiving continuous ‘FAQ-type messages’ anytime she contacted PayPal to make complaints, and having her accounts frozen whenever she received funds, she finally deleted her account and uninstalled her PayPal app.
Amolo said this type of occurrences were so frequent, and in fact, happened everytime she received payment for a transaction using the financial service provider. She said even for payments with very ‘little amounts’, her account was restricted.
“I feel like PayPal is part of the system that’s taking advantage of the image that they themselves created of Africa and Africans, because it’s Africa.
“They take advantage of us. I mean, they probably think, ‘who are we going to tell?’ I mean it’s Africa. No one will care.
“You know, it’s that disdain, it’s that racist disdain that because we are Africans, we can be taken advantage of. You know, ‘we’re not going to take them to court. The company is not going to collapse because of Africans’.
“I feel like it’s just part of that mentality, and I think it’s also part of the design of the system to keep Africa and Africans down.”
FIJ contacted PayPal via its customer support line for comments on the development but was unable to speak to any of its representatives as no options were made available to do so. A message sent to the company via its @AskPayPal Twitter handle had also not been responded to at press time.
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