By Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – PayPal Holdings Inc on Thursday expanded its services to allow Ukrainian citizens and refugees to receive payments from overseas, a move a senior Ukrainian official called a huge help as Russian forces continued to attack the country.
PayPal Chief Executive Dan Schulman told Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov in a letter that Ukrainians would also be able to transfer funds from their PayPal accounts to eligible credit and debit cards. The company has waived its fees on such transactions through June 30.
More than 3 million Ukrainians have fled the country since Russia launched its invasion on Feb. 24, an action Russia has described as a “special military operation.”.
PayPal’s move will allow refugees and Ukrainians to receive funds from friends and family members in the United States and elsewhere, and could also be used to transfer social payments by governments in the future, said Vladyslav Rashkovan, Ukraine’s alternative executive director at the International Monetary Fund.
“It makes a huge difference for people,” Rashkovan told Reuters, lauding Schulman’s personal engagement in accomplishing the change in just two weeks.
Rashkovan said he spoke with some Ukrainians on the street outside his office about the new capability and they immediately opened an account at PayPal.com/ua/home https://www.paypal.com/ua/home to send money to their relatives. Ukrainian officials have been pushing for the expanded services since 2015, after Russia annexed the Crimea region, he added.
PayPal said it would start making the expanded services available on Thursday, with customers able to send and receive funds from their Ukrainian PayPal Wallet in dollars, Canadian dollars, British pounds and euros.
Once a customer transfers funds from their PayPal Wallet to an eligible Visa or MasterCard debit or credit card, the money will be available in the currency associated with that card.
While PayPal is waiving its fees for several weeks, it noted exchange rates and fees charged by a customer’s card issuer or bank account may still apply.
Previously, Ukrainian citizens could send money from PayPal accounts, but were unable to receive funds.
PayPal earlier this month shut down its services in Russia, joining many financial and tech companies in suspending operations there after its invasion of Ukraine.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Additional reporting by Paresh Dave in San Francisco; Editing by Jane Wardell)