Thanks this website
Thanks this website

If you have some spare time on your hands this week, I strongly suggest that you have a look at this 3 minute clip about (what is essentially) a Vietnamese stokvel.

I’m a big fan of savings groups. I’ve written about them before (check out “Susus and Stokvels: They’re For Rich People too“).

But I think it’s important that we bring this kind of program back into our communities.


Because I think that we underestimate what a gross social travesty the financial services industry has become.

For example:

  1. No one can register for tax, or savings products, or investment products, or almost anything really, without a bank account.
  2. Registering for a bank account requires proof of residence, initial deposits, initiation fees, and so on.
  3. And because we’re toeing the IMF line and trying to implement first world compliance in a third world setting, there’s is plenty of paperwork.
  4. All the paperwork requires compliance officers to be hired to check all the paperwork.
  5. So the charge gets passed on as bank fees.
  6. But in a developing economy such as ours, the bulk of the population don’t really have proof of residence. They don’t get utility bills, or have telephone accounts. They don’t sign lease agreements. Which doesn’t mean that they’re tax evaders or money launderers. But, you know, tough luck.
  7. Also, they don’t have a spare R50 to put into the bank account to be thrifted off in bank charges.
  8. Meaning that the bulk of the population are locked out.

It’s the economic version of a caste system: where the unbanked are the untouchables.

So as I see it, the unbanked should self-bank.

After all, that’s how it all started.

Rolling Alpha posts opinions on finance, economics, and the corporate life in general. Follow me on Twitter @RollingAlpha, and on Facebook at