Starting Feb. 13, Ukrainians can receive electronic payments from non-residents of Ukraine in foreign currency, according to a statement by the National Bank of Ukraine on Feb. 12. This ruling opens the way for citizens of other countries to transfer electronic money to accounts in Ukrainian banks.

“Individual is entitled to receive electronic money, issued by the nonresident emitter, from nonresidents, provided that the international Internet payment systems provide a repayment of electronic money by transferring funds to individual’s account in the resident banks,” reads the decree by the NBU.

The amendments are a step closer to attracting the international online payment system PayPal into Ukraine, according to Ilia Kenigshtein, CEO of Creative Quarter and advisor to Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi.

Currently, Ukrainians can make payments through PayPal using their credit cards issued in Ukraine, but can’t receive payments through the system.

“Now PayPal is left with few reasons to continue ignoring Ukraine,” Kenigshtein told the Kyiv Post on Feb. 14.

But he added that “these changes do not solve everything.”

Kenigshtein is meeting with PayPal representatives in March to discuss the launch of the company’s services in Ukraine.

Now that the National Bank allowed receiving electronic payments, the only obstacle for PayPal to start operating in Ukraine is the lengthy process of registration and receiving a banking license.

The decree issued on Feb. 13 is the first part of the National Bank’s three-point plan to liberalize the banking legislation and make electronic payment system available for Ukrainian users. Two more decrees are to follow soon to finalize the process.

“We want PayPal, we want to be part of Europe”

Much public pressure has been put on PayPal lately to make its payment services fully available to Ukrainian residents. Nearly 18,000 people signed an online petition on Change.org.

Another initiative on Facebook, christened “PayPal for Ukraine Initiative,” has attracted more than 21,000 “likes,” including those from leading figures of the Ukrainian high-tech scene.

Now resigned economy minister Aivaras Abromavicius added some pressure in a public statement: “We want Ikea in Ukraine, we want H&M, we want PayPal, we want to be part of Europe,” he said last year.

This story is based on an article which first appeared in the Kyiv Post.

  • Update March 9, 2016: Ukrainian digital activists’ efforts have not been enough to persuade PayPal to make its service fully available to Ukrainian users, reported AIN.UA. Following a meeting in early March with PayPal executives in Warsaw, Ilia Kenigshtein expressed his disappointment over the lack of interest of the US company in the Ukrainian market. Not only did the PayPal representatives fail to prepare themselves seriously to the meeting, according to Kenigshtein, but they might have fallen “under the toxic influence of Russia’s anti-Ukrainian propaganda,” the activist wrote on his Facebook page.