Conducting an international money transfer using your high street bank is not only costly but can also easily take up to five days or more. The commonly used alternatives to international bank transfers are large money transfer operators (MTOs) such as the Western Union or MoneyGram. However, the fees that money transfer operators charge on top of sub-optimal exchange rates are often worse than the fees that banks are charging.
According to the World Bank, the average cost of remittances globally stood at 7.45 percent in March 2017. In other words, if you are sending GBP 500 to a family member abroad, they will on average only receive the local currency equivalent of GBP 462.75. The GBP 37.25 that the recipient loses out on can go a long way in many parts of the world and that’s why new ways to send money abroad must be found.
Along comes bitcoin
Fortunately, there is a new solution that alleviates high remittances costs, bitcoin.
Bitcoin is a decentralized global digital currency that runs on a peer-to-peer network called the blockchain.
Bitcoin enables users to buy goods and services online and in-store, wherever the cryptocurrency is accepted as a payment method.
Bitcoin also allows users to send and receive money across borders without the need for an intermediary such as a bank or a money transfer operator who takes a cut out of the transaction.
How to send bitcoin
Sending bitcoin can sound complicated, but it really isn’t.
All you need is some bitcoin, a bitcoin wallet (where you store your bitcoin) and the bitcoin address you wish to send bitcoin to.
There are different types of wallets such as mobile wallets, desktop wallets, online wallets, and hardware wallets. Mobile wallets that you can easily access on your smartphone are widely considered the most convenient option for sending and receiving remittances as well as using your bitcoins as spending money. Free secure bitcoin wallets come free with a Wirex account (free to sign up).
You can buy bitcoin quickly and instantly through your Wirex app. If you don’t have any bitcoin, here’s how you can buy some easily with Wirex.
The bitcoin address is a unique identifier to where the bitcoin is stored. It is made up of 26-35 alphanumeric characters, beginning with the number 1 or 3.
This is sometimes QR code encrypted. It will look something like this:
Bitcoin remittances made easier with Wirex
So once you have yourself some bitcoin stored securely in a bitcoin wallet as well as your recipient’s bitcoin address, you’re ready to go.
To send, it’s quite simple. In your Wirex account, you simply select ‘send’, enter the recipient’s bitcoin address (you can also or scan your recipient’s QR code). You’ll need to send add the amount you’d like to send and hit send. You’ll also need to confirm the transaction via email (this is a security measure to make sure no one else is accessing your account).
Once the recipient has received his or her bitcoins, which should arrive within the hour, he or she can then exchange the bitcoins into local currency on a local bitcoin exchange online or spend the bitcoins using their Wirex card.
The Wirex cards expand your horizons by enabling you to spend your bitcoin. With a Wirex card, you can spend bitcoin online, transferring it into EUR, GBP, and USD or withdrawing at an ATM into your local currency.