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Pakistan briefly lost access to TransferWise

Several Pakistani ISPs briefly blocked TransferWise (now known as Wise), a popular financial service used by freelancers to transfer funds to Pakistani accounts.

The service was not accessible across several internet service providers, suggesting that PTA might be trying to block the service in the country.

In spite of the fact that we could not obtain an official confirmation from the PTA, both the TransferWise mobile app and website were not functioning from within Pakistan, suggesting that it was likely a blocking pattern triggered by the PTA.

MoITT officials said they did not have any information about this and that the State Bank of Pakistan handles remittances.

Furthermore, TransferWise’s website and the app worked fine through the VPN.

We are currently unaware of the reason behind the glitch, but it appears that the government may be concerned about the flight of dollars, which may have led to the ban. The freelancers, however, use TransferWise to transfer dollars into Pakistan, not vice versa, which is ironic.

The service is back to normal, so either it was a technical glitch, or PTA reversed its decision.

It has become increasingly difficult for Pakistani IT companies and freelancers to work with international clients and receive payment in Pakistan.

TransferWise is one of the few services that supports instant USD transfers from abroad to Pakistani banks.

Furthermore, dollars coming into Pakistan through IT companies and freelancers are subject to multiple checks and can take several days to clear, making it difficult to transfer money there.

Alternatively, hawala and hundi services offer seamless workflows and exchange rates at least 7-10 percent better, which may encourage IT companies to use illegal channels to transfer funds to Pakistan.

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