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Still Reeling, Sellers Show Generosity in Face of Adversity

Still reeling from news that could spell the end of their ecommerce businesses, online sellers in Turkey are nevertheless showing a spirit of generosity in the face of adversity.

Sellers learned this week that PayPal is ceasing operations in Turkey as of June 6, 2016, blaming the decision on the Turkish financial regulator that failed to grant it the necessary license to operate in the country. As Etsy explained to its sellers this week, “This effectively means that members with a Turkey-based PayPal account will no longer be able to send and receive funds from that date.”

In effect, that means shoppers in markets like the US will be unable to purchase items from small sellers based in Turkey unable to open their own credit card merchant accounts. And as one Turkish seller told EcommerceBytes, buyers in that country are also upset “because they were able to buy many physical and virtual items only with PayPal.”

That means small sellers outside of Turkey who had shoppers there will also be impacted.

A number of artisan and vintage sellers on Etsy were hit hard. Seda from Shop Istanbul on Etsy said she built her small business 2 years ago, opening her own website, an Amazon shop, and two shops on Etsy. “I established my own firm, hired an accountant, paying my taxes. I made a contract with Fedex for expedited shipping,” she said.

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“This was not my only job, but this was my international business. Without PayPal it will be not possible to continue to sell.” She said sellers in her country are ecommerce small business owners, online freelance workers, musicians, coders, teachers, web masters owning server broad, etc.

Not surprisingly, sellers who were impacted took to social media sites and online forums to share stories and strategies, and some created online petitions.

But one seller took the unusual step of donating their PayPal balance to a charity. PayPal users were unable to withdraw their balances to their bank accounts if it added up to less than $10, so they began donating it to Losev.org

Seda explained, “Somebody opened a campaign on one of the largest social media platforms in Turkey to donate the small amounts left in PayPal accounts to the Foundation of Children with Leucemia.” She said people then began donating even more than what she referred to as their “PayPal leftovers.”

“We watched the growing number hour by hour,” Seda said on Wednesday morning. “It is $35,000 now and still going up.”

“It is the way we are saying good-bye to PayPal. Trying to convert a dead end to something to remember…”

The Wall Street Journal wrote about the impact of the PayPal withdrawal and wrote, “Turkish authorities have been pressing Western companies to move data centers inside the country to facilitate more efficient compliance with government and court orders to block content, and to generate tax revenue.”

PayPal told the Journal, “We have not encountered this situation before and we will continue to explore opportunities to gain the necessary approvals to recommence our services in Turkey.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.