How to use Paypal in Kenya – Part 2

Update: PayPal now works in Kenya! You can also now withdraw from PayPal through Babawatoto or LibertyReserve.

So, after all the drama and excitement here, things could only go up, right?


I received my card on Tuesday, and Simon, the agent who opened my account, was nice enough to bring it down for me. He’s usually stationed at the  KCB tent opposite GPO. Nice guy. I’d harassed him so much on the phone that he probably knows me by ringtone. So when he texted to tell me my card was ready, I texted back and said I was on my way.

Simon either saw me coming a mile off, or he remembered my habit of keeping time, but by the time I got to his tent, he had my card waiting. I didn’t have to queue or anything. Yay! He also gave me the names and emails of several IT guys who I could call in case of problems with my card. I had him write them on the PIN number envelope, because I was sure I wouldn’t lose it.

And then I lost it. Crap!

I got home late after several errands, so I didn’t try my card until Thursday night. By then, I had confirmed that the card account has a minimum balance of Ksh 300, and a monthly charge of Ksh 100. Not too bad, I can live with that.

On Thursday night, I keyed my card into my Paypal account for verification. It alerted me that my bank had blocked the transaction, and that I should call them for details. It was past 10.00 p.m. so obviously I couldn’t call anyone. I decided to sleep on it.

At 5.00 a.m. on Friday, I tried to key in the card again and got the same result. I was feeling pretty tense because I was expecting a payment through Freelancer, and I didn’t want to explain to my client that my new Paypal account was frozen … already!  After trying the card four more times and failing, I checked the time. It was way too early to call Simon, and I’d lost the number of the IT guy.

I did some elementary math and decided that two and two makes five – I’ve always been bad at math. I concluded that the bank had rejected the card because the names didn’t match. I had opened my Paypal using my middle name, which in most places appears as an initial.

So I closed my Paypal account and opened a new one, using the exact same details, but this time. I used my last name. Then I added the card to the new account. Paypal instructed me to contact their Card Problems Centre. I sent them an email, then twiddled my thumbs and waited for a reasonable hour to call Simon.

As I sat there worrying, I realised that none of my business contacts know my last name, so they’d never issue a cheque in that name. So I deleted the second Paypal account and opened a third one, this time using my common middle name, and my personal email address.

Paypal says, ‘This email is already registered to an account. If it’s your account, please log in.’ What?! It turns out I’d opened a Paypal account in 2007 and never used it. Oh boy.

I then went through all my Paypal accounts, including the one from my mum, and deleted them. Apparently, it’s s common thing, because when I was asked my reason for closing the account, there were fifteen options including ‘This is a duplicate account.’

Ok. Done. I now have one active Paypal account in the name that everyone knows. Good. Time to add the card. And Paypal says, ‘Contact Card problems’. Good Lord!!

Card problems at this point sent me an email saying I can only add a card to one account at a time. I realised that in their system, my dead accounts still had the card attached, so I emailed and explained this, then waited for an answer. A while later, they replied saying I could now add my card, but it still refused.  reason? I’d mailed them using the address on my dead duplicate account. The gods hate me. really. They do.

So I sent yet another mail, and this time they told me to attach the card, and that if I had a problem, I should mail them using the address on my new account.  I keyed in the card. It refused. I sent yet another email and waited. As I was waiting, Simon called me back, and I asked him for the IT guy’s name and number. We then had a conversation [where I noticed that the name, voice … and other things … of this IT guy seemed very familiar]. He instructed me to load my card account. Apparently, the bank had not rejected the card because of my name. It was because the account was empty.

I explained to the IT guy that I had paid Ksh 1000 to open the account, and he told me 500 was to open the account and 500 was to process my card, so actually, my card was in overdraft. Groan. He then said that if I made an immediate deposit, then attached my card, I could call him and he’d give me the verification codes. I wouldn’t have to wait the standard two-day period for a card statement.

I went to KCB Haile Selassie to deposit some funds in my card account. I walked into the wrong door and a nice lady redirected me before the security guy could find something to throw at me. At the cashier’s, the deposit slip was four numbers short, so I had to put the extra numbers in my account somewhere else. Apparently, the slips are printed for regular accounts, and card account numbers have four extra digits. To make things even better, the teller was new, so he had a trainer over his shoulder.

When the computer started beeping. he thought it was his fault, and asked for help in panic. The trainer taunted him for a while, then took over. Then they tell me my account was invalid and that I had to go to the Card Centre branch to get it sorted. The Card Centre branch is in Sarit. Just shoot me now. Pretty please?

I called the IT guy, who said he’d sort it and get back to me. An hour [and several kilometres] later, he called and told me everything was sorted and I could safely make my deposit. Trouble is I was now at a school function, miles from any KCB branch. So I hung around for a bit, then gave baby girl a kiss and excused myself so I could get to the bank before closing time. Deposit went without a hitch, but now I had to get to a computer before the IT Department closed for the day.

I keyed in my card and … nothing. I called the IT guy, who told me his records did not show any activity after 5.40 a.m. It was now almost 5.40 p.m! He suggested  i try a different ISP, so I got off Zuku, hunted down my trusty Orange modem, loaded it, and keyed in my card. Still nothing!!

The IT guy then suggested I pass by their offices the next day and see if he could fix the problem. He half suspected I was keying in the wrong thing, but it was still pretty nice of him. So the next day found me at Sarit Centre pacing outside locked doors. Eventually, I was let in, went to the computer, keyed in my card and … nothing.

I then explained the saga of my multiple accounts, and he said the only solution was to get a new card at a charge of Ksh 500. Curses and damnations. Which is my way of saying *** I wrote a little letter, got my ID photcopied, and left. IT promised to call me when my card was ready.

When I got home, I found a n email from Paypal saying they had corrected their data and that I could now add my card to my account. They explained that this was an exception, and that in future, even if I  closed an account, I could not attach the same card to another account. I replied explaining that my card had already been cancelled. They sent me a link to a survey on customer care, and I was not very polite in my responses. It was a very frustrating weekend.

Come Monday, on a whim, I decided to try attaching my card to the account. It worked! My hands must have shaken for a full five minutes. When I recovered my wits – and the use of my fingers – I called the IT guy and asked him if he could cancel the cancelling of my card. He said he’d call me back.

A while later, he gave me the verification codes and stopped the cancellation. Yay! I then wrote to Paypal explaining that I had now attached my card. I browsed my account looking for the ‘receive money’ or ‘withdraw money’ tabs, but I couldn’t find them. How now?

I received an email from Paypal saying that my withdrawal limit had been lifted, and that I could now receive any amount of money that I wanted. It gave me a link to regulations for receiving countries. the link had a list of countries where I could make Paypal withdrawals. Kenya wasn’t on the list.

So when they sent me another survey, I ranted about them not allowing withdrawals in my country. I was even more angry because a new client had been skeptical when I explained that we couldn’t use Paypal in Kenya. He’s American, and in his mind, Paypal is like Starbucks and McDonalds – it’s everywhere. So my claim made me a con. Not cool.

To their benefit, Paypal did write me a nice long reply explaining that condititons were not ripe here for Paypal, and that it was not a personal slight against me or my country blah blah blah. It was actually a really nice letter, but I still can’t withdraw from Paypal 🙁

So. Solutions. Well, I can apply for a Payoneer card for my Freelancer jobs, and I can use my Moneybookers account for other payments. But Moneybookers is kind of like Zain. Their service is great, but nobody uses them, and fewer people have heard of them.

The way I see it, I have two options. I can either spam Paypal until they give Kenya a break and let us receive through them, or I can do a major ad campaign for Moneybookers. Which one do you think would work?

Crystal Ading’ is a professional author, editor, rock lover and mother. Her work is available through

Additional Resources


  1. Kunule Imbayi says:

    Nice post, with a touch of humour too! I think Paypal would be the better option here, considering their lower rates and ubiquity. And just to add, maybe its time our banks realised the “Online potential” and developed products to suit an online market.

  2. Crystal, Do moneybrokers allow local cash withdrawals or its same story with paypal?

    • James Ogweno says:

      Mat, it does. You simply need to verify your bank account. You can have as many as you wish and give the banks 3-5 days to do their thing. However, the charges (at bank) are rather higher compared to Paypal.

  3. Very interesting, your struggles……I didn’t tell you this, but next time you visit the UK, US, Australia etc, get a local ID and open a paypal account…..its a quick and dirty way to get around this while things sort themselves out……once you get your pp mastercard, you can withdraw money from anywhere…….their fraud dectection system might give you a bit of a hassle in the beginning because you are registered in country A but withdrawing from country B or C, but that’s easy to overcome.

  4. christine says:

    nice post.
    i desperately need info on how to register with freelancer i keep on having problem hadi am thinking of opening a new email address for the same please advise do i need a website or photos or etc???????????? thanks in advance.

  5. Almost any search for paypal + kenya would have shown you that withdrawals to Kenya from Paypal is not possible.

    Moneybookers, Alertpay, 2checkout all work well.

  6. Hi Crystal.
    Excellent post by the way. I wanted to ask about getting the KCB card. I’ve just visited their site and it seems you have to meet a few requirements some which i might have a problem with like having a Certified copy of Certificate Of Registration for business owners and a Letter of recommendation from any KCB account holder. Are they strict about these two or can they allow exceptions?

  7. Very interesting post. At first when I heard of paypal(2007) i quickly created an account thinking everything was going to be very easy. Little did i know of the many limitations.However, i was able to receive payments and i run all my biz online.

  8. Forget about Paypal and eBay if you are in the so-called third world countries. Payoneer card would be fine for you.

  9. Thanks Crystal for harassing paypal on our behalf…..probably that’s why they gave in to Kenya 🙂

  10. Moneybookers is an excellent service with all their verifications and security, but their name has been tainted by the numerous CamSex and XXX merchandisers who use it overwhelmingly

  11. Another tip, with a payoneer card, moneybookers and payoneer wth ACH account. You can open a kenyan pp account and attach the payoneer to it for making paypal payments. With moneybookers, you have to verify your account with a kenyan issued card but after that you can add the payoneer card to send and withdraw money to.

  12. Am humbled by the authors efforts, and disappointing that no withdrawal solution was found (i nearly thought she did it!!)
    Moneybookers is indeed very good….i often have money wired to my Co-op personal account every week. I have never had any issues with them.
    Paypal should come up with a solution though…or..i will start a money transfer system on their behalf.

  13. how much does it cost to withdraw from moneybookers to an account here in Kenya be it through wire transfer or visa card?

    • According to the website, there’s a withdrawal charge of 1.80 Euros to your primary bank and 3.50 Euros to your secondary bank. I have three bank accounts attached to my Moneybookers account, and the transfer works fine, though it takes 4 to 5 days for me to receive the money.

      • So you mean that the whole process will approximately cost Kshs. 500. ie if I withdraw say $100*78=7800-500 I’ll get kshs6500 in ma account. There aint the wire transfer charges for intermediary bank which I think they charge $25-$30?

  14. Man, I’ve had similar problems with Paypal today! NKT

  15. When i first tried to register with paypal kenya wasnt on the list. Being a luo i complained nd after 3 days they added kenya on the account opening form. Now ive been using my normal co-operative bank visa electron atm for a long time now to pay via paypal. Its just recent that i discovered that kenyans can now receive payments but you can only withdraw to a usa bank account but with some logic e.g. receive on paypal –> deposit to a paypal accepting website –> withdraw from this website via wire, check or to alertpay, moneybookers or any other solution that supports kenya.

  16. In my case i would use since im already registered there then withdraw from to moneybookers then from moneybookers to my account via wire. Although i can wire from to my account i add moneybookers in between because their wire charges are lower.

  17. am looking to start earning money online and with the different responses you are getting for your post i think i have already made up my mind which method is best.if things work out for me i will be sure to let you know

  18. @ Tony i need money in my paypal account very urgently would you mind me mpesaring you the money then you sent me to my paypal address. I need to pay for hosting. Then about withdrawing i get your drift you register two accounts one hires the person to do the work and the other account does the work then you pay yourself and wire the money to your account. Elance also can be used the same way through escrow. So Tony please help a brother.

  19. Crystal so what is the best option for a freelancer like me who has a lot of payments tied up in Paypal??? I have become skeptical after reading your articles and i don’t think i can deal with these system though it is true this American clients think it is supposed to be everywhere!!! Western Union, can it be the solution?

  20. how do you withdraw money from your co-op debit card which you sent from money bookers? my prob is getting cash from the debit card. note that its not sent directly to the account but to the card. wonder whats the difference.

    • i may not have an idea on tat but if you dont mind, would you please explain to me how you withdrew money from moneybookers to your card. i have problems wth moneybookers. i have withdrawn severally to my KCB debit card only for the money to be returned to to my moneybookers account after 50% has been deducted. kindly holla back.

  21. have you put your account number? when you go to withdraw option, there is a bank option where if you havent put ur a/c yet, they will allow. after that, there are 3 options card, a/c or post office and i used card.

  22. Tainers Kioko says:

    Very nice article. i am a writer with ezinearticles .com and associated content. I have had the same issue with papal and i keep wondering when they will accept Kenya in the list. I would like to know about the Moneybookers and how it can work in Kenya. Interestingly there are so many people in Kenya who need the services of papal but they cant get it? I absolutely want to join you in this campaign. Thank you
    Tainers – If possible send a mail to my inbox:

  23. Paypal is possible in Kenya. you can withdraw….i personally use it this way, so all of you stop the ranting. why is it that i use it myself. all i know is that you will need an expert to help you with your bank and a few other things. don’t be so pessimistic, all of you. otherwise if you are waiting for all the straight methods(in breaking news), kindly wait till you die. you will live to use the zain like moneybookers, which by the way has problems with some banks.

  24. Getting to use paypal in Kenya is quite easy…I have linked my account with a payoneer bank account and I can easily withdra from atms…..

  25. I have done it for the past four months. All you have to do is send a request to payoneer to have them create a virtual US bank account and voila!!! You can then withdraw ur funds without any probs at all………but the problem comes in with the commission payoneer charges you for withdrawal….and thats why I find moneybookers to be the best for use in kenya….

  26. Kelvin, did Tom and Kenneth offer any insight to these online payment debate? One that we can sought out once and for all and move on to new ideas like how to benefit from the BPO business?

  27. Well…. Went through this menace since the year 2000, IT SUCKS…I KNOW … I’VE BEEN THERE … I DID THAT … 10YRS AGO.

    Just open e-banking account with an American bank (All you need is a photocopy of your passport) and withdraw you PayPal cash from there…. off-course with there debit card… from any ATM Point in the country.

    …. Until PayPal establishes a partner in Kenya as they Keep telling me.

  28. can anyone help me with some info… how can i open a virtual bank account in U.S and which bank can i do tthat?

  29. Crystal
    thanks for your wonderful post. I receive many customers for the said debit card. Am at KCB Kipande House opposite GPO.

  30. Douglas says:

    well saying moneybookers is a great service means you’ve never withdrawn more that $100 at once with them. i have an account with them, but whenever you make a withdrawal exceeding $95 with them, they’ll deduct $25 from the amount then send the rest: so you end up with $75 if you had $100.. a great service indeed. NOT!

  31. kevin does paypal really work in kenya

  32. I’ve been with Uvocorp, Essaywriters, and for over two years using Moneybookers who think am a money-launderer coz they keep blocking my account for weeks. I seriously need a paypal account that can withdraw cash in Kenyan Banks. Someone help!!

  33. Paypal just hates Kenya, no doubt. Imagine, Malawians (that poor country) can withdraw!

  34. @KK that’s exactly why Kenya is left out. Kenyans think they are too important than the rest of the other African countries. Possibly, you just just joined online payments recently so you don’t realize that Kenya was in the last group(where Uganda and Tanzania are still locked) until recently. Appreciate the little step forward

  35. Hi people i have been using Never been disappointed

  36. Never heard of e-pay-will check it out.

    I have a moneybookers account which i stopped using upon hearing that they are expensive. At the moment i’m waiting to get my paypal activation code from my bank so as to begin using my paypal

    Thanks for all your contributions to this discussions,which are quite useful to newbies in IM like us

  37. James Ogweno says:

    Crystal, I have fallen in love with this story! Really so considering I had a cool three months doing the rounds with Moneybookers via the card verification thing and gave up somehow! I must laud your effort- you, sure, are determined! I lost hope at Paypal, Ikobo, Xoom and stuff but was later able to write a couple of e-mails, send scans and make calls to cancel my numerous accounts before my withdrawal limits could be raised. I eventually settled on Payoneer for my withdrawals and it works quite fine. I do pray, however, that the KBC Card may come alive. Again, thanks for the story.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Richard Uwah, Noor. Noor said: How to use Paypal in Kenya – Part 2 | Like Chapaa: So, after all the drama and excitement here… […]

  2. […] We mention Paypal a lot on this site, but Like Chapaa has specifically dealt with Paypal here, here, here, and here. And since most people don’t like to click on word links, I’ll break […]

Speak your mind