Douala : Collection of Mutilated Bank Notes as Trade

Some young men specialize in the purchase and exchange of mutilated bank notes as a means of living.

Bank notes wear out over time or happen to be depreciated before the normal life span and are constantly replaced by the central bank. This activity has offered an opportunity for business to some young men in Douala who go around collecting depreciated bank notes, of course in exchange for a price, for onwards transmission to the bank authorities for replacement. They go around the quarters with a board on which samples of depreciated bank notes are affixed, asking anyone with a torn or deprecated bank note to come and exchange it, of course for lesser than the phase value of the bank note. They deal with bank notes of all currencies; CFA, Euro, dollars especially.

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Kengfack Edith, a mutilated bank note collector, says he has been in the trade for two years and takes care of his wife and two kids from the business. He says he targets a neighbourhood at a time and the next day he targets a different neighbourhood especially markets. On a good gay he says he can make up to ten thousands and on a bad day he makes at least three thousands profit. “When someone comes with a torn bank note, I evaluate it. If it is one thousand, I can propose to buy it for five hundred. The bargain is like in very other business and when we agree on a sum, I pay and collect the bank note,” he said. “Some people are difficult in negotiation especially women but others just want to get rid of the bad bank note and that’s where I make good business”, he added.  At the end of the exercise he takes the bank notes to a contact in the central bank who changes the torn bank notes and gives new ones.

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Kengfack says he was initiated into the business by a friend after his business went bankrupt and he had no money to carry on. In the beginning he said it was difficult but now he is able to take care of his wife and two children from the business though he complements the trade with other activities. It is worthy to mention that most business people refuse to receive torn bank notes as legal tender suspecting it most have been tampered with by counterfeiters who cut a good bank note into two and join each half to a fake bank note to outplay the vigilance of people.

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