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Lebanon: mutual aid to help save the local currency

Faced with the collapse of the Lebanese Pound, a direct consequence of the economic and political crisis that has been hitting Lebanon for many months, popular initiatives are being set up, notably thanks to the contribution of independence created by the independent digital services, with the Telegram application at the forefront.

With the Lebanese pound having lost more than 80% of its value against the dollar, and banks freezing their customers’ savings, Lebanese people are looking for viable solutions that will enable them to maintain a decent standard of living during what is undoubtedly the biggest economic and financial crisis they have ever had to go through.

If the official rate of the US dollar is maintained at 1500 pounds, it is better to rely on its value on the black market, and according to Paul Khalifeh, local correspondent for RFI radio, it is currently closer to 9000 pounds.

REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Defiance towards banks

Faced with this unprecedented situation, citizens are organizing as best they can. Thus, in order to obtain hard currency, and not have to endure the frauds of sometimes ill-intentioned money changers, Lebanese people are joining together online, on secure platforms such as the encrypted mobile messaging application Telegram, and exchanging between sellers and buyers.

The rules are simple, all the parameters of each transaction – price, date, time, meeting place – are pre-established in discussion groups that already have tens of thousands of members – and the list is growing day by day – all under the ruthless control of administrators. The administrators are in fact the guarantors of the proper functioning of this system of mutual monetary assistance and do not hesitate to banish anyone who breaks the rules on sight.

A fine example of citizen mobilization, made possible by the rise of new technologies.