The same rules apply for all business accounts that have not registered via the government’s “Know Your Business” (KYB) scheme.
In essence, that means that you must have a KYB-registered business account in order to have any PayPal account at all. Personal PayPal accounts in Thailand are dead as of February.
According to a PayPal customer service representative we spoke to, who was not authorized to speak on the record, Thailand is so far the only country in Asia with a PayPal presence that is enacting such rule changes.
Ed. note: After this story was published, PayPal spokesman Neil Cassley reached out with objections to its premise. “Most users will be able to continue using PayPal services once they complete a few simple steps to transfer their PayPal account to the new local platform or sign-up for new accounts,” the company said in a statement. “For example, consumers can continue to shop online, and registered businesses and registered sole proprietors can continue to receive payment. Some services won’t be brought back online immediately but they will gradually return later in the year.“
Is that all?
Of course not. All registered business accounts will be charged a 7% value added tax (VAT) on transactions, domestic transactions can only be made in Thai baht, and no money can be transferred to U.S. bank accounts.
You will still be able to make payments using a registered business account linked to a Thai bank, however.
Correction: An earlier version of this story indicated that the 7% VAT would be assessed on all transactions. PayPal has since said that it will only apply to its transaction fees.
What does this mean for you?
Some have reported payments for Spotify and New York Times subscriptions routed through PayPal being denied. According to the PayPal representative we spoke to, this is simply a coincidence. PayPal Thailand is migrating its business on shore, and the changes above have yet to take effect.
In other words, all PayPal account holders in Thailand are still able to pay for services.
When the changes do take effect, freelancers are likely to be most affected.
Those who rely on PayPal to receive payment from foreign vendors will no longer be able to do so without a registered business account. Graphic designers, teachers, writers, and other online workers who work independently will almost certainly need to find new solutions.
So will anyone seeking to send money overseas, whether you’re sending remittances to family or transferring cash between Thailand and your home country.
That being said, the PayPal representative we spoke to assured us that those with registered business accounts will still be able to send money from Thailand to friends and family overseas as “business transactions”… but that probably doesn’t help you.
But why, though?
The gist is that Thailand is overhauling its regulatory framework as it aims to accelerate its financial technology (fintech) industry and transition to a digital economy.
To cut through the
bull buzzwords: PayPal has to adhere to Thai law if it wants to do business here. Specifically, Thailand’s anti-money laundering and tax laws.
In order to operate in Thailand, PayPal is required to have an FX e-Money
license and meet whatever standards that requires.
On the user end of the equation, the KYB verification is ostensibly part of a broader push by the Thai government to weed out money laundering.
Among a litany of documents and personal information, it requires you to submit your 13-digit business identification number, proof of business address, and “identity information for the primary authorized user, each company shareholder with 25% or more ownership, and each additional executive or authorized user.” That definitely means you’re in the system.
But it is also about taxation. Sweet, sweet taxation. All those freelancers selling stuff on etsy to make ends meet or supplement B18,000 salaries? Time to pay up.
How are people reacting?
In a manner of speaking: not good. Many gig economy workers are not happy, but most people are simply confused by the new regulations.
“I still have my U.S. [PayPal] account but I can’t link a Thai card to it, obviously. I need to figure something out because that’s how I send money to my family in the States. I need a beer,” said one Philippines national and long-term Bangkok resident, who wished to remain anonymous.
“The best thing we can do right now is pray for Etsy to support other payment channels for Thailand,” wrote freelancer Thidhapa Chakunchorn in the Etsy Thailand Facebook group
In a report of a recent Clubhouse discussion
, Johnstocker, a Thai podcaster and online tutorial provider, highlighted that the majority of business in Thailand is still cash-based, which makes it pretty much untaxable. The new rules, he said, really only hurt business for everyday people trying to hustle in Thailand’s anti-competitive marketplace.
Others we talked to have suggested alternative digital payment providers, like Skrill or Ksher, or making international transactions via Thai banks like SCB or Kasikorn and increasing prices.
Ugh… will PayPal ever offer personal accounts in Thailand again?
Maybe. The representative we spoke to didn’t write it off, but they weren’t privy to the company’s long-term plans, not to mention how Thai regulations might change in the future.
Long story short: if you need to send money overseas or get paid by clients based in Berlin or New York or whatever, it’s time to look for a new service provider.