Somebody somewhere is taking advantage of freelancers.
The issue started 3 or 4 weeks ago in what I want to believe was a "testing phase". Different freelancers would withdrawal their hard earnings and get different rates. I know this because I am a member of a facebook group and somebody pointed out this issue and many freelancers confirmed that it was happening.
So some freelancers received:
1 USD - 103 KES
1 USD - 94.7 KES
This affected freelancers withdrawing funds to their mobile Money (Mpesa). At that time all bank withdrawals to local currency were getting 1 USD - 103 KES.
As of last week, whether you are doing withdrawal to the bank or to the mobile money, the rate has flattened to 1 USD - 94.7 KES.
Currently, transferwise, a company Upwork was using until few months, has a Paypal - Mpesa KES at a rate of 1 USD - 104 KES. (Unfortunately most freelancers avoid Paypal because they've a habit of suspending account with your money for no apparent reason).
As of today, the exchange rate is at 1 USD - 107 KES.
Upwork is giving an exchange rate of 1 USD - 94.7 KES.
If I was to withdraw 500 USD today, instead of getting 53,500.00 KES, I would get 47,000.00. That is 65 USD less. We've slightly over 50K active freelancers from Kenya. Meaning if each freelancer was to withdraw 100 dollars each week, we would lose 12 dollars per freelancer, 600K USD for 50K freelancers per week.
I have heard a million times that Upwork has little or no control over the exchange rates but this is not true. They've changed companies doing the exchange rates before. It's okay if we were to get a 2 or 3 shillings below the current Central Bank exchange rate (As it has always been), but a whooping 13 Kenyan shillings is simply stealing from freelancers. I hope this gets to the right person and something is done soon! I remember few years ago Upwork refunded us for the poor exchange rate. I hope this will get to the right people and the issue will be resolved.
Hey Muia N, you have captured the predicament we are facing very nicely. A markup of 1 to 3 shillings is understandable but ksh 13 means giving over 10% of one's earnings to an intermediary whose only job is to remit our hard earned cash and it is unfair. I am sure it is either a system error on Upwork's website or deliberate effort by whatever bank remits the money to fleece us.
I feel something is wrong, am a Kenyan freelancer and the dollar to Kenyan shillings conversion am getting it's not marching with the current in the market, can someone look into that?
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