How hawala works, the informal financial system with centuries of history that moves millions of dollars in the world

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Transfer money from one place on the planet to another without moving it.

No need for banks, no currency exchange, no forms or high fees. Only one sender, one receiver and at least two intermediaries.

That is, explained in two paragraphs, the operation of the hawal, a currency exchange system with centuries of history, that arose long before traditional banking and that has survived all this time not only thanks to its apparent simplicity but also to the multiple benefits for those who use it.

Can move million dollars worldwide without knowing exactly the amounts or who handles them, since one of its keys is that its intermediaries rarely leave a record of transactions or their users.

This represents an obstacle when it comes to tracking the origin and destination of money, which can lend itself to possible money laundering operations, drug trafficking and financing of terrorist groups.

Although hawala itself is not connected with these activities, it can be an instrument used for illicit purposes, as Alberto Priego Moreno, professor of International Studies at the Universidad Pontificia de Comillas in Madrid, explains in conversation with BBC News World.

In fact, its use is widespread in the Persian Gulf, the Horn of Africa, South Asia and the eastern world in general.

It is defined as a method traditional and informal that works in parallel to any other banking system or sending values ​​and that is based on the values ​​and trust shared by its intermediaries, known as halawadars.

For example, it allows a person in New York to send money to Islamabad without even needing to open a bank account.

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