The life of a freelancer can be quite unnerving. It is a life fast-paced, clogged to near-suffocation by deadlines and unrelenting emails from worried clients. So it was all pomp and celebration when I made my first $ online. Well, it was nothing big, just $75 from a writing gig. All the same, it was good enough a wand to throw a few rounds of latte. First things first, I had to withdraw my earnings.
I made my $75 in less than a week at Freelancer. You have to wait for 15 days before your first withdrawal is processed; has something to do with security reasons or concerns of some sort. That was not an issue though and soon enough, the 15-day waiting period was confined to the past. But still, I did not have my money.
No, Freelancer had processed everything right but the amount sat jailed in my PayPal account. Withdrawing to the said platform was a grave mistake I should have known better to avoid. Technically speaking, PayPal suffers from multiple organ failure as long as the Kenyan market is concerned. Luckily, a friend of a friend living abroad came to my aid and I got my earnings, though painfully lesser than $75 via Western Union. Boy, oh boy was I DISCOURAGED. I gave myself an indefinite break.
Then one late afternoon, someone special mentioned Moneybookers, which I gather is currently being married off to Skrill. She also mentioned another payment platform, the first of its kind, that is based right here in Kenya. I decided to give both a try. I set up a Moneybookers account, which I must admit was very simple and straightforward. Then I moved on and created an account with ePay-Kenya, which also was simple and relaxed.
Simply stated, ePay-Kenya allows you to withdraw funds straight from Moneybookers to your M-Pesa account. The whole process takes less than an hour (as long as you do not withdraw at night).
Well, it is at the formative stages and the whole thing is somewhat running on manual, plus ePay has to rely on third party gateways to process the payments. That should explain the ten-minute-to-one-hour wait. Overall, it is quite effective and probably the only system in Kenya that allows you to withdraw instantly from online freelancer sites through Moneybookers. All that you need is an active Moneybookers account for clients to make payments and a verified ePay-Kenya account.
Nonetheless, there are fees that will need meeting. Before withdrawing to M-Pesa, you will have to make a deposit to your ePay account from Moneybookers. Every deposit attracts a 10 percent fee that is claimed from the amount deposited. There is also a 3 percent fee taken by Moneybookers. Finally, to withdraw to M-Pesa, you have to part with a $3 fee. For illustration purposes, let us withdraw $50 you supposedly made this week.
- 10% of $50 = $5 (By ePay)
- 3% of $50 = $1.5 (By Moneybookers)
- $3 M-Pesa charge (By ePay)
Amount that goes into your pocket = $50 – $5 -$3 – $1.5 = $40.5
With the garbage that is our economy, the hypothetical $40.5 in hand is better than $50 held up somewhere on the internet. I did what I love doing most and complained about the fees. One seemingly well-trained fellow nicely informed me that fees would eventually come down with the expected expansion in membership. Projections by ePay pegged that at about 6 months from now, hopefully. I later learnt that the seemingly expensive rates are due to high fees charged by the aforementioned third party gateways.
On the bright side, the customer care team is on point; quick, courteous and well composed. All is not lost if you have some money trapped away in PayPal. EPay-Kenya has a way of withdrawing the same. For this, you will need to contact them directly at epay-kenya.com
Well, I will continue using the service if for nothing else, its reliability. Of course, I will be looking forward to lower fees.
Ok mateys, that there is how to withdraw money online if you are a freelancer in Kenya. As a certain literature tutor used to quote, there are many ways of killing a rat, so if you are privy to any other way, I would be delighted to put a few words to that as well.