Paul Elam: "..invited to speak about the challenges facing boys and young men, the way they are being left behind in our society." Janice Fiamengo.
AllAfrica: For African migrants, sending money back home comes at a high cost: they spend an average of 12.4 percent on transfer fees. Bitcoin entrepreneurs are now coming up with clever ways of bringing the cost of remittance down, all the way to zero. A risky endeavor or a smart fix?
Shaun Matsheza has gone through the process every month for over five
years, ever since he came to the Netherlands. Armed with cash and a
customer card, he shows up at Western Union's bright yellow desk to send
money back home to Zimbabwe. The cost to do so is high: on average,
about 15 percent of the total money transaction. "And if something
suddenly arises, and my family needs 40 euros or so, I have to pay the
minimum fee of 17 euros," says Matsheza, who is a journalist for Radio
Netherlands Worldwide. "It can be ridiculous."
At the other end of the transaction, the process is not very
convenient either. After Matsheza sends his mother a secret code, she or
a sibling travels about half an hour into town to collect the money at
the nearest Western Union agency.
Matsheza and his family are far from alone in acting out this monthly
ritual. In fact, millions of people across the world do the same. Their
mundane motions fuel the global economy; according to the World Bank,
countries in Sub-Saharan Africa will receive 44 billion euros in
remittance this year alone, which makes it one of the largest sources of
income, far exceeding foreign aid.