PayPal is available, to various degrees, across 50 African countries and territories. While some are only able to send money, others are able to enjoy a fuller experience with Send, Receive, Withdraw among other features.
Established in 1998, it is today a juggernaut of global e-commerce, powering transactions across borders in billions of US dollars annually.
PayPal typically partners local banks in African countries where it offers a fuller service. For example, it partners FNB in South Africa, Botswana; First Bank in Nigeria; Mauritius Commercial Bank in Mauritius; Equity Bank in Kenya etc.
With over 200 million users across over 200 countries and territories, PayPal supports 25 global currencies but notably does not support any African currency natively – not even the convertible South African Rands.
The countries are:
The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
Sao Tome and Principe
An account is free to open. There is $0 cost for opening an account but you will be charged some fees for sending funds to business accounts, receiving funds, and withdrawing to a bank account or bank card. Sending and/or receiving to Personal account within the same country are free.
PayPal South Africa
PayPal users in South Africa has some of the richest experience in Africa. Users can open Personal or Business accounts; can Send, Receive and/or withdraw via FNB.
Note: Par Forex regulations, users in South Africa are legally required to withdraw all received funds to a bank account, and then spend from a bank card if/when necessary.
Once you have a PayPal account, withdrawing through FNB does not require an FNB bank account. You only need an FNB profile. Simply register for the FNB Online Banking profile, and withdraw money to any South African bank account.
Withdraw in USD
It is possible to withdraw your PayPal funds into an FNB Business Global (CFC) account, effectively allowing you to make foreign payments in US Dollars. This helps lower the risk and cost incurred with exchange rate fluctuations and double conversion. Customers must be registered for the FNB PayPal service and would need to contact FNB for assistance with enabling this option.
Do note that this USD withdrawal feature requires a minimum transaction amount of $5,000 and is only available for businesses, not individuals. EUR and GBP Global accounts are not supported; it is only available to FNB USD denominated Global (CFC) accounts. Other terms apply, as would be specified by FNB.
Aside from the ability to spend directly from your Credit or Debit Visa or Mastercard linked to the PayPal account, you have the added convenience of topping-up from your South African Rands if you bank with FNB.
The FNB Top-up Service allows you to top up funds from your qualifying FNB ZAR account to your linked PayPal account to shop online or make payments with PayPal. The Top-up service is only available to FNB customers. A Top-up takes less than 10 minutes to reflect in your PayPal account. Do note that USD/ZAR forex rates would apply to this transaction.
Residents of Nigeria have more limited access to PayPal. Local users can only send money on Personal accounts, not receive. They cannot maintain a balance and can only spend from their verified/linked Visa or Mastercard credit or debit card.
Business Accounts can receive money but only through a website. The PayPal account would need to be configured on an online shopping cart.
While First Bank Nigeria appears to be the local banking partner, there is no meaningful effect of this considering there is no formal withdrawal service in Nigeria.
Any resident of Mauritius who is over 18 years old having a personal Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) Current or Savings Account and registered to the Juice app can use PayPal services on Juice. Only Mauritian PayPal accounts are eligible for this service.
It is available to both individual customers and online sellers having an MCB account with access to MCB’s Juice app.
MCB offers a top-up service and withdrawal options for PayPal users. MCB will convert your withdrawal funds from USD to MUR and your Top-up/Send money from MUR to USD according to bank’s daily conversion rate. A withdrawal from a PayPal account takes a maximum of 3 business days to reflect in your linked MCB Savings or Current account.
PayPal partners Equity Bank in Kenya for residents of Kenya to withdraw their money locally. The Equity Bank Withdraw Service is exclusive to Equity Bank and enables PayPal account holders to withdraw funds paid into their PayPal accounts through Equity Bank. The service is available to customers with an Equity Bank account. Funds can be withdrawn from PayPal to Equity Bank transactional accounts in KES, USD, GBP, or EUR, excluding credit cards.
When performing a withdraw transaction Equity Bank will verify your Equity Bank and personal details and you will be redirected to PayPal to confirm the withdraw transaction. A withdrawal takes 3 business days to reflect in your Equity Bank account.
It is important that the e-mail address on your Equity Bank Account and PayPal Account is the same.
As of January 2020, PayPal is not available to residents of Ghana in any shape or form. While there has been a lot of speculation over the years regarding a potential entry into the West African country, there is no sound evidence as of when or if it would be available.
PayPal partners FNB in Botswana for funds withdrawal. The FNB Withdraw Service with PayPal allows you to withdraw funds paid into your verified PayPal account to your qualifying FNB Bank account. The Withdraw Service is exclusive to FNB customers in Botswana and is available to both individual and business customers.
If your account contains funds in a different currency, PayPal will auto-convert those funds into US Dollars during the withdrawal process. FNB has a $10,000 USD limit per transaction. The Botswana Pula is currently not an available currency on PayPal but when you withdraw your money it will be converted by FNB into Pula according to the banks daily conversion rate and settled into the linked FNB bank account. FNB charges 1.5% of the US Dollar (USD) amount per withdrawn transaction. A successful withdrawal will take 5-8 business days to appear on your bank account balance.
The following other African countries can send and receive.
- Egypt – users only withdraw to an Egyptian Visa card or US bank account
- Algeria – users can only withdraw to an Algerian Visa card or US bank account
While it is theoretically possible for anyone anywhere to open a PayPal account in a country that has a fuller experience like US, UK, Canada, Singapore etc, such accounts are very difficult to maintain and you have a high risk of losing your money when they freeze the account, demanding legal documentation to prove you are a legal resident of the said country.