The global remittance industry is huge. World Bank data shows that over $148 billion was sent abroad from the U.S. alone in 2017. As people leave nations gripped by hyperinflation, or simply move to look for better opportunities abroad, sending cash back home becomes a necessity. As the people in Venezuela are discovering, this can be cheaper, faster and simpler with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Here are four ways to send money abroad using crypto.
Crypto Remittance for the Masses
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general can get money from sender to receiver extremely quickly and at low cost. If you’re new to decentralized peer-to-peer currency, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with how it works. From there, one can choose which cryptocurrency you intend to use as a conduit for the fiat cash. Bitcoin core (BTC) and bitcoin cash (BCH) are popular, though ripple (XRP) and ethereum (ETH) are other options you may wish to consider.
After selecting your desired cryptocurrency, the next step is to choose a wallet which can store it. Cryptocurrency wallets are essentially software programs that store your public and private keys and interface with various blockchains, allowing you to monitor your balance, send and receive money, and conduct other operations. There are different wallets to choose from: a desktop wallet, which would be downloaded and installed on your computer; an online wallet which runs from the cloud; or a mobile wallet, by far the most popular option as they can be used anywhere while on the go. Other options include hardware wallets which store a user’s private keys on a device like a USB, and paper wallets, which refer to a physical copy or printout of your public and private keys. Both are easy to use and provide a very high level of security. More information on choosing the best wallet can be found here. Now let’s move on and examine four methods of sending cash abroad using cryptocurrency.
By far the simplest method for beginners, buying BTC on Localbitcoins and then using it to send cash abroad is extremely popular in developing nations in particular. You simply need to open an account, search for people selling BTC in your country and go ahead and make a bank transfer to the seller. The platform is very secure and uses an escrow mechanism to hold funds, which means the coins can’t be released until both parties agree.
Once the buyer has the BTC they wish to send abroad, they can send it to their contact’s crypto wallet, where they can then sell it, or perform the same process on Localbitcoins.com but in reverse. So, if a person wanting to send money from the U.S. to Venezuela wishes to use this method, they would find a buyer in Venezuela after having bought BTC in the U.S., then sell the BTC and receive fiat cash into a Venezuelan bank account. Look for a good fiat to BTC rate while using this method, as you will find many buyers and sellers on Localbitcoins.com with different rates.
Another increasingly popular platform for sending money abroad using cryptocurrency is Airtm. A digital wallet connected to banks and blockchains, Airtm makes sending money abroad via cryptocurrency very simple. As well as BTC and BCH, the platform supports a number of other currencies including ETH, XRP and monero (XMR). Opening an account is easy and Airtm provides a mid-market cryptocurrency exchange rate. There is a crypto dashboard on the website where you can see your total balance in USD equivalent inclusive of all your cryptocurrency balances. From there, you can buy and sell crypto and send it to other Airtm addresses. Recipients can then convert straight to fiat and withdraw.
Bitcoin ATMs (BATMs) are fast popping up everywhere, with over 4,000 scattered around the globe. They quickly allow users to get their hands on crypto or fiat cash. And as a way for sending money abroad, they are a gem. You need only find a BATM, buy BTC or other crypto, send to the recipient in another country and then the recipient can sell the crypto for cash at a BATM. The recipient doesn’t even need to know about cryptocurrency – they can simply make and send a photo of the QR code and the sender can use this bitcoin address directly, which can then be taken out of a BATM as cash. BATMs tend to charge a higher commission than other services mentioned here, it should be noted, so their convenience comes at a price.
A newer method of sending cash abroad is via Bloom Solutions. Founded by Luis Buenaventura, Bloom aims to reinvent the remittances industry using BTC. By focusing solely on cryptocurrency as a mechanism for cross-border money transfer, Bloom allows users to sign up, and when your credentials have been approved, a rate for using the service is given. You can then deposit funds into your Bloom account and Bloom takes care of it being sent abroad by sending it to a bank account or cash pick-up point. An email or SMS will confirm the completion of the transaction. Based in the Philippines, the service has been praised for its ability to help the unbanked receive remittances.