Somali Islamists ban mobile money

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A Somali Islamist group has told telcos in the country to stop offering mobile money transfer services, branding the practice “unIslamic”.

The al Shabaab group, which is linked to al-Qaeda and controls large swathes of the country, has issued a statement telling providers Hormuud, Telesom and Golis to stop offering the services within three months.

An official from one of the firms told the BBC that they “had no option but to obey” the order.

The group says mobile money helps to feed Western capitalism and enables outside interference in Somalia’s economy though the telcos’ foreign partners.

However, according to the AFP, Somalia’s transitional government claims al Shabaab only decided to impose a ban after the providers refused to let the group use their services for “terrorist fund-raising”.

It has also been claimed that the ban is designed to cut off a new rival to traditional money transfer systems, called hawala, which can be taxed by al Shabaab.