Monday, July 11, 2016

Reviving Hawaladars?

Islam features an ancient money-transfer system called the hawala, and those who engage in this work are called hawaladars.  No doubt the practice predates Islam, but it is alive and well today.  It moves money far less costly than banks or Western Union.

There were hawaladars operating in the USA, but since they were not regulated, and they were largely Islamic, they were raided in USA after 9-11.  They are few and far between in USA.

Now comes a pair who plan to start-up a money transfer business based on the hawaladar:
While chatting one day, the two discovered that they were each about to send equivalent amounts in opposite directions. It occurred to them that, rather than make two international transfers and lose all that money on bad rates and fees, Käärmann should simply move pounds from his British bank account to Hinrikus’s British bank account, while Hinrikus moved euros from his Estonian bank to Käärmann’s. “Local transfers are free and fast, and we saved a bunch of money on the exchange rate,” Hinrikus says. “It was cool.” Soon, the two started “the money chat,” a Skype forum for other London-based Estonians, where members could arrange similar matching transactions.
OK, so essentially a hawaladar.  "Giving people access to a better deal" than banks or Western Union was once available from any hawaladar, and this start-up relies on banks, whereas a hawaladar never involved banks.

I am always bemused when i meet some do-gooder who is "digging wells" to help out destitute people in some far off land.  how long have they been without wells.  What did their people do the last 5000 years for water?  O, you mean 20 years ago USA made war on their country, destabilized it, and now water is scarce?  So you get a halo for digging a well?  How about we stop making war everywhere?  You want a halo?  Stop the wars.

Instead of making doubtful start-ups with a bad imitation of a hawaladar, how about stop destroying hawaladars?

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