An example is provided by one local, Ahmad Nofal, who arrives at an exchange shop with two large bags stuffed with Iraqi dinar notes, denominations of one dinar and a quarter dinar. “We usually do this when we receive our salaries. We exchange these for bigger notes because the smaller notes are a hassle to carry around and if they’re damaged, we pay for that with our own money,” Nofal explained.
After only a little research into this area, it is easy to conclude that when it comes to Iraqi currency, there are two social classes here. Those who earn good money and end up with clean notes like the red IQD25,000. And those who do not earn much and who are left with dirty and damaged notes in small, useless denominations.
As Ayad Bader Sayah, another Basra exchange shop owner, tells NIQASH: "Customers who have accounts at the government banks come to an agreement with the cashiers and bankers and they are able to return the damaged, smaller notes and get IQD10,000 and IQD25,000 notes in return. Then the damaged bank notes are redistributed to those who can’t afford to pay for cleaner money, like the pensioners and low income families.”
Although he himself makes some profit in this area, Sayah doesn’t seem that enthused about the business model. “We always hear that the central bank is going to replace the old bank notes but up until now, nothing has happened,” he notes. “And We’re not really happy with the profit we’re making,” he says, “because we know the poorest citizens are paying the price.”