Jonathan emailed me an interesting question that I think is relevant to everyone hiring OFS. It will give us some good insight into what banking is like in the Philippines.
Hey – do you have a post on banking?
One my OFS doesn’t have a bank account and says there isn’t a bank on their island. They primarily use PayPal.
However, we process all of our payments through Gusto which aligns our accounting nicely, I’m not going to deviate from that.
Do you have any articles that might be helpful?
I asked one of my OFS, Jam, to answer this. He used to work for PayPal and is familiar with banking protocols.
If the VA is living in a rural/agricultural area or a small island, the only bank available would likely be a small rural bank or a cooperative. Most small banks are not connected to the network with international banking access, which means the bank would not have a SWIFT code, making international bank transfers impossible.
The advantage of using PayPal is it would also allow him to transfer funds from his PayPal account to GCash. GCash is like our Venmo. We can use it anywhere, and it can easily be converted to cash.
Another reason why the OFS is asking for payments through PayPal is because Filipino workers have learned to mistrust employers who “pay” using direct bank transfers. It’s widely circulated among the VA and freelancing communities that some scammers will say that they will send a bank transfer to pay for work, and there was none. The scammers will then send a fake screenshot showing the alleged “bank transfer successful” receipt. As a result, many have recommended avoiding employers that “pay” using direct bank and wire transfers. Using PayPal protects the worker because they get to see if the transfer did go through.
But looking at Gusto, it’s understandable that paying through PayPal would be difficult. I recommend asking the VA to create an online savings account instead.
A BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands) or CIMB (Commerce International Merchant Bankers) savings account can be created through the GCash app. They can also open an online UnionBank account. They don’t go to an actual bank to do this, and these banks have active SWIFT codes.
This means basically anyone in the Philippines can get an online bank account connected to their GCash. Any payment system should work with these online bank accounts.
We have people all over the country. Urban (in Manila) and super rural (no bank close by). We pay them all with EasyPay.