In the midst of the economic crisis, Afghans must pay a steep surge in money transfer costs.

KABUL, Afghanistan — Many Afghans criticized the steep costs of transferring money within Afghanistan. Residents claimed that companies like Western Union and MoneyGram are charging more than 10% commission for every $100 transferred, a stark contrast to the less than 2% charged in other countries.

Since the Taliban’s takeover, Afghanistan banks have faced significant operational restrictions affecting money transfers and receipts.

Sanctions on the Taliban have impacted private and state banks and even global companies that provide financial services in Afghanistan, casting a wide shadow over the financial sector.

“Our brothers abroad try to support us, but here, money changers take high commissions. We urge the central bank to intervene and reduce the commission rates from 10%. There is a lot of turmoil; they need to charge less,” said Ahmad, a Kabul resident.

“When money is sent from abroad, the commissions charged by banks and money changers in Afghanistan are exorbitant. For instance, some banks take a $10 commission on every $100, which is substantial and problematic given the current economic crisis,” said Jawed, another resident.

In addition to imposing high commission rates, companies like Western Union and MoneyGram conduct all transactions in Afghan currency, often exchanging foreign currencies at rates significantly lower than market value.

“We receive help from abroad. We pay rent, electricity, and taxes. The central bank is here; we ask them to take less than 10% from the people and prevent these excessive charges,” Omar, a Kabul resident, added.

Abdullah, also from Kabul, remarked, “When the dollar’s value was high, they charged 10%. Now that it’s lower, they still charge 10%, and this percentage must be reduced as people are truly struggling.”

Western Union and MoneyGram did not respond to Amu’s inquiries about their fee structures.

However, the former head of the Afghan Banks Association claimed that financial service companies are less active in Afghanistan compared to other countries, which is why Western Union and MoneyGram have raised their transfer fees.

“Alongside the country’s inherent risks, operational hazards, and reputation risks elevate the costs for these companies in Afghanistan. If we look at other countries that transfer money, like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and India, the commission rates are lower, and people have more options for receiving their money,” Siyar Quraishi, an economic expert, explained.

Following the Taliban’s return to power, MoneyGram and Western Union ceased operations in Afghanistan but resumed services on September 2, 2021, after receiving authorization from the U.S. Treasury Department

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