Stickman Readers' Submissions April 1st, 2006

Thai Share

There is a Thai concept that a few farangs (non-derogatory term, given recent articles!) may have come across.

It’s known as the ‘Share’, and it happens in Thailand as well, but in 15 years of fraternisation, I only found out about it once we got back to Farangland.

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Now it’s a big mystery to most Farangs (Oops did it again, but no apologies from now on – long-nosed white Caucasians just tires my fingers out, and just blame it on the French, unless you have a linguistic argument!).

Anyway, back to the point:

A group of girls get together and decide to create a ‘share’.

This is allegedly a savings club, and it took me two years of research to figure out how it works, because no Thai, including my wife and several other friends, could ever explain it to me.

Here is how it works: A bunch of girls (occasionally a guy or two as well) get together, to form a ‘share club’. What this means is that everyone in the club will contribute a certain amount of money every week. In my experience,
it’s normally £50/week, though more on that later. The duration of the share is 1 week, multiplied by the number of ‘hands’ involved – where a hand is one ‘share’, though one individual can buy in
to more than one hand.

Anyway, there are typically 30-40 ‘hands’ involved, so the share will run for that number of weeks – in other words, anything up to close on a couple of years.

So, every week, the participants turn up, and put their money into the share.

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Lets say there are 30 hands x £50, so the weekly pot is £1,500, but normally the meetings are every 2 weeks, so that becomes £3,000 (and the contribution £100).

The person responsible for the share takes the first pot, in other words a £3,000 interest-free loan, for the duration of the share, in exchange for the overhead of running it (very low, especially when they get their boyfriend to run
up a quick spreadsheet!)

Thereafter, the participants bid to ‘win’ the share. What they bid is the weekly amount of interest they are prepared to pay to collect the pot of £3k. The highest bidder collects the pot that week, the downside being that
they have to pay the interest that they bid every week until the end of the share.

The ones that bid early on are those who need the cash, which will be for repaying

gambling debts, holidays in Thailand, or buying back the gold they lost in the previous share.

Typically, an early bid will be £20 (or a bit more). Now that implies a serious rate of interest, as for a £3k loan over 30 months, they’ll be paying £20/week interest! Still cheaper than the Chinese 10%/week money merchants!

So, at the bi-weekly share meeting, all the normal payments, plus the interest payments from previous winners, are accrued, and paid to that week's winner.

Another key concern, especially for the paying partners, is that these meetings are in fact, as well as the monetary aspects, very social evenings – so if you have already taken your ‘share’, and are paying interest of
say £20/week, you will also need to get a round or two in, thus upping the cost.

No wonder that, once somebody wins the share, they no longer bother turning up, and send the money by proxy!

When I first came across this, I thought that all the interest was accrued, and distributed amongst all the participants at the end of the share, but no, if you can hang out to the end (which is the only sensible thing to do), you get the
£3k principle, and a shitload of interest from those that took the money out earlier.

If you can hang out that long, it’s a bloody good rate of interest (last time I did it, we made nearly £1k interest!) – conversely, if you take the money out early, and there is no shortage of people wanting to do that,
you pay through the nose!

So in fact it is quite a good scheme, as long as you can afford to wait until the end.

The main problem for most farangs is that they don’t understand how it works, and getting a straight explanation from a Thai just doesn’t happen – it took me 2 years to figure it out, and I speak passable Thai!

A couple who are very good friends of mine are having arguments, in that she wants to be in a share, and he doesn’t (actually, she is running this particular share!). Because they can’t agree (she can’t stop, but also
can’t explain it either) they may well split up over this issue, but she has stated that if he won’t let her do it, she will leave him – and this is the guy that rescued her from 5 years in a visa wilderness! He’s done
the language course at SOAS, but I think he still needs to go on the culture course!

Bottom line is, it’s not at all a bad thing to get into if you can afford £50/week, and don’t take your share out until the end.

The biggest problem is the conflict between partners that arises from the inability to explain how it works, Farangs don’t like that, and Thais are incapable of explaining.

Now, the share I’ve been talking about is a fairly ‘normal’ one, based outside of London.

Once you get in the city, the game changes a little.

Bear in mind that most of the girls in London are ‘working’, they manage to chip in a few more quid, I believe it can be up to £500/week.

Downside is, that means that there is a serious pot of cash on the table during the evening – and guess what, at one of these meetings, someone did a runner with around £50k in cash (and that is only a month after another did
a runner with over £5k!!)

Still, that’s just between the Thais, or whoever is funding them.

Certainly the girls that ran the rip-offs are persona-non-grata now, in Thai society it’s just about the worst thing you could possibly do – ripping off your fellow Thais, and not even having a farang to blame it on!

So if anyone spots a couple of girls in London by the names of Tookta and Ann, I could probably find a reward!!!

Stickman's thoughts:

I can't say I really understand it, and it sounds like a Chinese casino to me i.e. gambling! I would not trust many people with that kind of cash either!

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