The Payment Platform Gripe
Certain choices make us compete on uneven terms
Happy New Year 2022! A whole new year for success! Wow, let us start with a positive outlook. After all, what is wrong with making a living as a God-fearing, honest Third World citizen who wants to use his writing talents? Or, for that matter, any skill that a digital nomad or freelancer can exploit.
The good news is you can! You can if you live in the Developed World. Nothing like starting the new year with achievable goals. You go out into the world with good vibes. You want to savor the smell of satisfaction for being paid for your hard work. Then, Jack “The Dream Reaper” comes out of nowhere and chops both your legs off with the swing of a machete. Or let’s say it is an ax, which is more proper for the developed world. That’s something Theodore Roosevelt would have done.
Something is going amiss in this world. On the one hand, you hear about globalization everywhere, work without frontiers. As Mieke van der Merwe puts it “if you live in a darker part of the world,” everything is made difficult for you. Suddenly, the odds are against you.
Globalization is a sort of global bullying…
That’s right. As a freelancer trying to make an honest living in one of those parts of the world, you will have a guaranteed hard time. Perhaps you woke up with the wrong stars. This globalization talk suddenly looks more like subtle global bullying. Banks make the “Know your customers” rules to counteract money laundering. And yet, on those same banks, drug traffickers, corrupt politicians, and corrupt entrepreneurs seem to have no problem going about their usual business.
So, as my Medium activities pick up and meet the requirements for joining the Partner Program become within reach. I read a lot of articles about “Opening a Stripe account in a non-supported country.” Sure! I want to join. I want to cash in on the original content I create. I mean, we should all have the same rights. I tried following the same steps in those articles, and midways, I ran into the brick wall:
“You shall not pass! (because we don’t like your country)”
My findings after reading all those articles were these:
- If you live in the Developed World, the world is at your feet. Globalization lives up to its hype.
- If you live in the “Darker Parts of the World,” globalization is a funnel where you get the shorter end. With a few tricks, you can get around and open your Stripe account to receive earnings on your writing.
- There also exists the “Darkest Parts of the World.” Here globalization is only for the rich, the corrupt, and those who know people in the right places. That is where I live.
Other writing platforms use Global Payment Platforms that are more equative, such as PayPal. If you want to stick to Medium, you can follow any of these steps to get paid for your writing. If not, there are other platforms where you can build up earnings until you get a Stripe account (Vocal Media), and another that uses PayPal (Simily).
Case A: You Live in the Developed World 😀
Congratulations! you got the longer end of the stick! As a writer and freelancer, you benefit greatly. Nations and big corporations use it to swing it at the rest of the world. I guess you heard of the “Gran Garrote” or “Big Stick Ideology” by Theodore Roosevelt.
Now you only have to reach 100 followers and write good content. Joining the MPP is a walk in the park. After connecting to the Medium Partner Program, you only need to open a Stripe account and link it to your local bank account.
Case B: You Live in the Darker Parts of the World 😥
I loved how Mieke van der Merwe coined it. It was spot-on! She, like many others in 2019, managed to work around the silly limitations the Developed World imposed on the rest with the Big Stick and created her funnel. Those who followed her steps and got it to work can now earn a few dollars with their writing. Maybe those articles are no longer up-to-date (read on), and they were lucky in being within a time window.
What did these Medium authors from “Darker countries” do to get paid? They set up an intermediary service between Stripe and their bank accounts. They used either of these two methods, which I explain later:
- Open up a Wise account (the company formerly named TransferWise). Back then known as the Borderless Account. Nowadays, it is called a Multi-currency account.
- Open up a Payoneer account.
Both services allow you to legally obtain a local bank account in the “sunny” part of the world in U.S. Dollars, Euros, or whatever currency is used by those countries deemed favorable by the Big Stick wielding instances.
Once you set an account with any of those two services, you can couple your MPP to Stripe, and then Stripe to either Payoneer or Wise, and from there to your happy bank account.
Notice that both services gear towards different target groups. To receive what is rightfully ours, both fit the bill.
Case C: You Live in The Darkest Part of the World 😪
For better or for worse, you fell into this category. It is usually for worse. That means you hit the brick wall head-on, ended up with a bloody nose, and your money (your potential earnings) are on the other side of the wall. It appears the stars are not with you, and the sun is not shining upon you either. Theodore Roosevelt’s Big Stick ideology is still very much alive today!.
I am not kidding! This part of the world exists! be grateful you are not in these places were trying to make an honest living is frowned upon even by the Developed World and its corporations!
Neither the Wise multi-currency account nor the Payoneer account offers any roadblocks. With both, you can open an account using your information, and you will be good to go.
Luck won’t be with you when you attempt to link your earnings pipe with Stripe. After reading all those Medium articles that claimed they opened their Stripe accounts successfully, I concluded that it only works if you are in the first two groups.
And I mean it! I live in a country considered the “banking capital of the Americas.” A country in which the U.S. Dollar is the legal currency. The same country where many global fiber optic cables run through to connect the whole world.
The Earnings Pipe breaks at Stripe
Yet, the pipe breaks at Stripe. However, neither Wise nor Payoneer refuses our business for living in the “darkest part of the world,” but Stripe does! Therefore, the culprit could be the payment processor.
Over the months, I endeavored to let Stripe enlighten me on why my country is unsuitable. Is it a technical reason? No. Is it the country’s fault for blocking certain businesses from entering the local market? Or is it plain unwillingness by the company? I got no response from Stripe to any of my inquiries. However, knowing how things work in my country of residence, I am inclined to think local “powers” in my banana republic may be uncooperating to let a few local initiatives thrive in a controlled monopoly. That’s why, here, a single local intermediary bank is the only way to withdraw PayPal funds; at the expense of extra fees. I always said monopolies foster mediocrity. But then, the lack of response from Stripe makes me think they might be the culprit. I sure hope they add my country before I decide to leave Medium.
About the Wise Option
The company formerly known as Transfer Wise, offers an easy and legal alternative to receive your earnings. When you open an account and activate it, you will have access to a local bank account that fulfills the requirements to use Stripe. From your Wise account, you can transfer your earnings to your own country.
A $20 deposit is required to gain access to your local account
The only downside to this method is that they now require a deposit of $20 to activate your dollar account. They also offer Euro accounts but I am sure the same requirement applies. Luckily I did not deposit because, as I found out, Stripe is still the bottleneck.
About the Payoneer Option
Millions of digital nomads around the world use Payoneer. Even those living in the darkest parts of the world can usually open a Payoneer account. For example, Upwork uses Payoneer as its payment platform.
After you earn your first $100 paid to your Payoneer account, you can apply for their debit card. With it, you can enjoy easy access to your earnings without relying on costly bank transfers. The signup and activation process is pretty simple compared to Stripe.
Beware of inactivity fees!
Although, there is one pitfall using Payoneer. If you are inactive for several months, and there is a balance on your account, they deduct monthly fees. If so, your hard-earned money becomes theirs.
The Medium & Vocal publishing platform world remains divided into three types of citizens:
- Group A: People are interested only in having a digital platform to publish their articles, posts, or stories. They don’t care where they live.
- Group B: People who want to earn some money writing and enjoy the privilege of a Partner Program that pays them. They live within the walls of the medieval citadel.
- Group C: People who want to earn some money writing but stay deprived of this benefit. They live outside the walls of the medieval citadel, and their hard work goes unremunerated.
If you have less than 100 followers, it may make little sense to belong to the Partner Program.
You will find many articles from writers living in places where making honest freelance money is hindered by a variety of factors. Some of them claim to have managed to enroll and fully activate their pipeline to receive their hard-earned money. However, all of those articles are outdated.
Since soon I would be eligible for the Partner Program, I decided I would better get this hindrance out of the way as soon as possible. I opened a Wise account and reactivated my Payoneer. Unfortunately, while I was able to create a Stripe account that could be connected to either Payoneer or Wise. But, I couldn’t activate the Stripe account because I don’t have a cellphone number in a qualified country.
There is little -or no- indication that Medium or Vocal would add a more equitable payment platform, and both use Stripe. The same holds for Stripe. They appear content with their current reach and probably not interested in further business. My efforts to get an authoritative answer from Stripe have been fruitless. The writing platform “Newsbreak” uses Tipalti as payment platform. Tipalti is like 600% more flexible in payment methods and is available in 196 countries.
- If you are in groups A or B, your best bet is to stay at either Vocal or Medium.
- If you have the misfortune of belonging to group C, the Third World for writers, your destiny is to be lion food outside the medieval walls. I recommend joining a platform like Simily; which uses PayPal instead of Stripe.
You can share (anonymously) your opinion about what the culprit is by answering a single single-choice question here at Survey Monkey. You may also want to read the update on this article at the bottom of this page.
Wow, by now there are like millions of articles like “I made a ton of money writing on Medium”, or “Let’s help each other reach 100 followers (to monetize)”, or “How to open a Stripe account in a grey-listed country”.
Only a minority of Medium writers are able to monetize their content due to restrictive rules and choices.
And that is the sad reality. I don’t understand why it is made so difficult for honest people to make an extra, and this platform is not helping much either.
So, before you read any of the click-bait articles, be aware that these are the THREE requirements to be eligible:
- You must have 100 followers. Thousands of articles here asking for synergy to accomplish that, but…
- You must also have (or be able to activate) a Standard Stripe account. At the time of this writing, this is only possible if you live in any of the 46 countries where Stripe is available. And even if you do…
- If you accomplish the previous two (not an easy feat for those outside the 46), you still must live in a smaller list of countries in which Medium allows the Partner Program. Sadly, you are only eligible in 33 countries.
So, if you don’t live in any of the shorter Medium-curated list of countries, you can forget about making a single cent.