Cash Money Dealings, Kurdistan Style

This is how accounting in Kurdistan works:

A plastic bag filled with wads of cash, and two serious looking dudes counting it.

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Cash-monay dealings, Kurdish style

Lols. Just kidding.

These two guys, while they look straight up mafia gangsters in this photo, are two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. I had them pose like that.

But they seriously do all the accounting in cash, and the plastic bag isn’t staged either. There are no ATMs in Ranya, and I’ve seen one in Suleimaniya and two in Erbil (the two biggest cities in Kurdistan). From what I can tell, the banking and credit systems are a shamble. Pay day was once delayed because the bank didn’t have enough cash. At first I thought my boss meant there wasn’t enough money in their account, but no – the bank itself didn’t have the money.

All transactions are carried out in cash, so people carry wads of money with them at all times. It’s weird. Cash has become such a foreign concept for me – I rarely carry more than $20 in my wallet because paying with a debit/credit card is so much easier, and you don’t have to deal with unwanted change. Though quarters in college were a hot commodity. Thank goodness the days of having to pay for laundry are over.

So be prepared to handle money like a gangster when you’re in Kurdistan – either in plastic bags, or a briefcase if you’re fancy. At least there are no coins in the currency; even the smallest denomination, 250 dinars (about 20 cents), is a bill.

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