Multinational online payments company PayPal has withdrawn its payments processing services from online firms offering essay-writing services to university students.
According to the company’s announcement published April 3, Paypal’s decision to deny its services to academic writing sites was made to ensure that its online payments system is not exploited “to facilitate fraudulent practices in education.” As detailed in a recent BBC report, the company is currently coordinating with multiple firms in the academic writing industry to migrate their businesses to other online payment processors.
As the company’s spokesperson stated:
“PayPal is working with businesses associated with essay-writing services to ensure our platform is not used to facilitate deceptive and fraudulent practices in education.”
While the impetus behind the company’s move appears noble, PayPal’s move to ban a particular industry from its platform also demonstrates the extent of power that a centralized system is capable of commanding. As it stands, PayPal remains the primary payments processor on which the multi-billion dollar writing industry currently leverages.
In the last decade, the academic writing industry has seen massive growth, employing hundreds of thousands of professionals across the globe, of which a major fraction of its workforce are outsourced from third world countries where the unemployment rate remains high, among which includes Kenya.
As Imperial College London’s Senior Teaching Fellow Thomas Lancaster explained in a recent report published by U.K publication The Daily Mail:
“Kenya is the hotbed where all the writing happens. There is high unemployment and a job working from home is coveted. They have good English and low overheads. There are thousands of people in Kenya whose job is to write essays for cheating students. There are several writers in every apartment block.”
While a number of academic writing firms do, for all intents and purposes, promote indolence and dishonesty among privileged students who can afford their services, the majority conversely serves as legitimate online tutoring companies that offer live, full-service tutoring assistance.
As PayPal enforces an outright ban against the academic writing industry, essay writers and online tutors are left with no other option but to resort to other payment methods. It is in this field that digital currencies may provide an alternative solution, under the conditions that websites offering academic writing and tutorial services abide by regulations implemented by both universities and governments.