The reason why Medium can’t pay Indian writers. (& how it is not Medium’s fault?)
India-based writers eagerly waiting for Medium’s support in accepting them in Medium’s partner program.
Many people expected that Medium will soon support payments to India when Stripe officially launched in India. Later Stripe for India progressed to “preview” mode, but still Medium refused to support Indian writers.
So I did a little research on it. Here’s the truth.
Medium uses Stripe to process payments. Stripe launched in India. Stripe was successfully processing all payments to India. Technically, Stripe can process Medium’s payment to India.
The problem is not with Stripe or Medium. It is in the Indian government’s policy. RBI or the Income tax department of India, I can’t specifically point out which one enforced this particular rule for foreign transactions.
I found the following from Stripe’s website.
“At the moment, we only support non-INR presentment by registered Indian businesses (that is, sole proprietorships, limited liability partnerships and companies, but not individuals) up to a maximum of 10,000 USD per transaction, which is a regulatory limit. In addition, a valid Importer Exporter Code (IEC) is mandatory if you sell physical goods, but is optional if you sell services, as long as you’re not taking any benefits under India’s Foreign Trade Policy.”
Anyone from India who need to receive payment in non-INR (i.e. USD in our case) must have a registered business. Individuals can’t receive payment in non-INR currencies (but in INR).
To prove that you have a registered business, you need a valid GSTIN number that needs to be entered into Stripe and then Stripe will verify it before allowing you to receive money in foreign currency.
Most of the Indian writers are individuals and don’t have any registered business. Those who registered a business in India can sign-up for a Stripe account to receive payments in USDs and other non-INR currencies.
Even Stripe accepts you, Medium has less possibility to work on differentiating writers from India who have registered businesses and who is not. As Medium is enrolling the writers through a different process, even before one could have the option to connect their Stripe account to Medium.
Even if Medium starts to accept Indian writers to its partner program, it would be a headache when it comes to paying them later due to the above-mentioned policy issues.
What is the solution?
Medium can hold the payments and then they can wire-transfer them to Indian (writer’s) accounts. Like “Buy Me a Coffee” does.
The issue is, Medium would need a bunch of other resources to do this. If I were Medium, I would focus on developing and maintaining the product (as I outsourced payment processes to Stripe) instead of handling money and accounts.
So, presumably Medium is not ready to sweat in this process, at least for now.
Do you know that payment processors in India like Razorpay, and Paytm has been banned by RBI recently from onboarding any new customers for not following the policies and guidelines properly? I doubt Stripe would ever take a step ahead in the favorable direction until or otherwise there’s a change in the policy of RBI and the IT department of India.
Paying Indian writers is technically possible, but not policy-wise.
What’s the next step?
- Use Medium’s tipping feature. Ko-Fi (which also pays through Stripe) has the same problem. Try “Buy me a coffee”, but don’t connect the Stripe account to collect the money. Instead, use the bank transfer option.
- Substack allows you to collect subscription money in INR (or) Register a sole-proprietorship company in India, get GSTIN, and use it with Stripe to collect subscription charges in USD.
- Wait (for a decade) or until the Indian government changes its policy.
- Wait for Medium to implement other payment options.
End Note: I don’t usually write in this niche. Yet, you’re most welcome to follow me on Medium. Those who are more curious than normal people can subscribe to my newsletter (which can be read in a minute) Snippetter at Substack.
Another End Note: Monetizing the content is the secondary goal. The primary goal is to add value to their writings.
👏 Clap, Share. Oh, if you want to test how to Buy Me a Coffee works, try it by tipping me 😜.