Social Trust Based Transactions in Tanzania

General

  
These are keys to my Lexus 4WD and my 3 bedroom apartment with a view of Mt Meru. I haven’t signed any papers so far. And hardly fronted any money.

CAR 

  • 8am – I text a guy that rents out cars.
  • 10am – he shows up at my door, hands me the keys and leaves. I ask, when do I pay? He says you can pay me later.
  • 5pm – I grab $$ from an ATM and pay him, along with a copy of my passport.
  • Done.

HOME

  • 5pm I stop by to take a look at a house (along with many others)
  • 8am (next day) I decide that’s the one I want
  • 4pm I show up with my stuff and am handed a key to a just cleaned house. When do I pay you? He says: today I’m busy. Tomorrow I am going somewhere. How about the day after?
  • So I will pay him in 2 days.

In Tanzania, trust is important. Relationships matter. The system doesn’t require you to distrust each other. Social reputation systems, and people’s reliance on them, remove the friction (and extra cost) associated with doing things more formally.
Western systems, however, are more universal. Not relying as much on social systems means there’s less biase, better exception handling and more scale.
As technology-mediated reputation systems get better, successfully avoiding all their traps and pitfalls, we can expect more Tanzania style personal, human service at western style scale and access.