Saturday, February 21, 2009

Transferring money...

A primary activity of FAVL is transferring money to countries in Africa with poor financial infrastructure. Though I have to say, the mechanisms for transfer have improved enormously in just ten years. When we started in 2001, Western Union barely existed in Africa; now it blankets both Burkina Faso and Ghana. And bank wire transfers are pretty easy, though the costs are high. For our smallish amounts of $5,000 transfers, a bank transfer costs about $100; Western Union typically charges about 2%, so the two mechanisms are comparable.

What is somewhat surprising to me is the archaic nature of the bank transfer system. I have to fill out a one page form (and press hard to make... carbon copies!) each time I make a transfer at Bank of America. Apparently the branch office doesn't have access to the information on a monitor so I can't come in and say, "Do the same transfer as last time." I can do that at Western Union. Last week I tried to send a Western Union, and was denied... turned out I had made so many transfers I had to be "interviewed"... presumably some kind of precautionary verification of questionable transfer type legislation is out there. So after explaining who KOURA Donkoui was, everything was OK.

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