DEFINITION of 'Hawala '

An alternative remittance channel that exists outside of traditional banking systems. Hawala is a method of transferring money without any actual movement. One definition from Interpol is that Hawala is "money transfer without money movement." Transactions between Hawala brokers are done without promissory notes because the system is heavily based on trust.


Hawaladars, or Hawala dealers, arrange money transfers that are often backed only by trust, family connections or regional relationships. Hawala originated in South Asia during ancient times, and is used throughout the world today, particularly in the Islamic community as an alternative means of conducting funds transfers. Hawala is frequently referred to as underground banking, which is a misnomer because Hawala services often operate openly and legitimately.

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