In Zimbabwe, legal tender can take the form of U.S. dollars, bond notes, EcoCash, mobile wallets and a pseudo-currency called RTGS. As their values rise and fall throughout each day, there’s real money to be made from trading money.
More than 7 million Rwandans do their banking through their cellphones, but many of the agents who facilitate the banking transactions never declared their income to the country’s tax authority. Now the tax authority has started taking a 15-percent withholding tax from these agents’ incomes with the cellphone provider, plunging some of these agents into financial turmoil.
Workers from around the world came to Argentina for jobs that would let them send meaningful remittances to family members in their home countries. But Argentina’s peso is rapidly depreciating, and inflation is rising, and now many of these migrant workers are wondering what to do about the plunging values of their remittances and their bank accounts.
Zambia’s government and its banks insist the country’s new taxpayer identification numbers aren’t used to collect additional taxes. But the public’s suspicions about this ID requirement have driven many locals to favor digital transactions, now a booming business.
Zambian banks demand substantial collateral and charge high interest rates for loans, so local women are increasingly turning to informal lending cooperatives, called village banking, for loans large and small. The groups operate on trust, but the high volume of money outside the formal banking sector comes with risks.
A government policy enacted without notice on Oct. 1 eliminated U.S. dollars from bank accounts throughout the country and replaced that money with a new monetary unit that some central bank officials say should be called a “local dollar.” Accessing those dollars had grown increasingly difficult, but seeing them disappear was a crushing blow for people who had saved them.
In Zimbabwe, people with diabetes are cutting their dosages of vital insulin and feeling the adverse health consequences. Unable to get credit, the country’s pharmaceutical companies are increasing drug prices and can’t keep up with demand.
The Argentine government created a program that was supposed to make it easier for first-time home buyers to get a mortgage. But the slumping Argentine peso has put the plans of many would-be buyers in jeopardy, because most homes are priced in dollars.
Currency trading pays for some, while others gain nothing. With cash and jobs difficult to obtain, this market is becoming increasingly popular, and young people are taking courses to help them master the strategies to trade.