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Cryptocurrency for International Payments: Faster, Cheaper Transactions?

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Technology brought globalization, and with globalization, work, and services can be done and offered anywhere in the world. Someone in London can work or offer services to someone in New York. The need to send and receive money internationally and across borders became necessary.

The traditional financial system is plagued with bureaucracy and bottlenecks and fails to meet the demands of faster, cheaper international transactions. Satoshi Nakamoto created the first cryptocurrency to fill the gap left behind by the traditional financial system and facilitate cross-border international payments with cryptocurrency.

With the constant inventions and innovations ongoing in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, the potential for cryptocurrencies to play a significant role in the world money system and facilitate faster, cheaper international transactions is gradually becoming a reality.

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This article analyses cryptocurrency's potential for faster and cheaper international payments for individuals and businesses. We'll analyze the benefits of quicker transactions and lower fees alongside key considerations like crypto's price fluctuations and regulations affecting cryptocurrencies.

Benefits of Cryptocurrency for International Payment

1. Faster Payment

When someone initiates an international transaction in the traditional financial system, the person will first have to go to a bank, have an account number, get the receiver account number, and documents that prove the identity of the person; once this is done, the person will have to wait for days because the payment is not immediate, it will take 3-7 days for the bank to process the transaction.

The bank will first send the money to an intermediary that deals in international remittances to process the transaction. This intermediary bank will take a certain percentage of the money as a transaction fee, and then the intermediary bank will send the money to the receiver bank's main branch. This receiver's main branch will now send the money to the receiver's bank branch, and the receiver's bank branch will send the money to the receiver's account and alert the receiver.

All these processes will happen without the sender or the receiver knowing what is happening with their money. However, that is not the case with cryptocurrency because cryptocurrencies run on blockchain.

A blockchain is the building block of any cryptocurrency. It is a distributed ledger that shows the processes and stages of any international or local transactions. It is decentralized and not controlled by any central authority.

When someone initiates an international cryptocurrency payment, the person does not need any documents or bank account number to send a crypto payment; all the person needs is the receiver's wallet address. From the moment the person initiates the payment and sends the money, both parties, the sender and the receiver, can see the stages the payment is in. If any issue occurs along the way, through the transparency of the blockchain technology, the issue will be settled in minutes, and both parties will be satisfied.

Cryptocurrency international payments take minutes to get from the sender to the receiver because there are no intermediaries. The money goes from the sender's wallet to the blockchain network. Once the crypto payment gets verified, it is added to the blockchain network, where it becomes immutable and cannot be changed, and the receiver receives their money.

2. Reduced Fees for Cryptocurrency International Fees

In the example above, money moved from the sender to the sender's bank, to the intermediary bank, to the receiver's head office branch, to the receiver's local branch, and finally to the receiver's bank account. These processes and the movement of funds take time and money, making faster, cheaper international transactions impossible for the traditional financial system.

As of May 2024, the average fee for a wire transfer from the US to Europe is around $45. If someone decides to send $1000 from the US to Europe, the person will be charged $45, and the receiver will receive $955.

Cross-border payments with crypto provide faster, cheaper international transactions, but the cryptocurrency and exchanges used vary.

Here is how fees can differ based on the chosen cryptocurrency and exchange platform:

2a. Low Network Traffic & Cost-Effective Option:

If someone decides to use cryptocurrency for faster, cheaper international transactions and chooses Stellar Lumens (XLM) and Coinbase as the crypto exchange, the network fee for XLM crypto transfers is low. Coinbase charges a flat fee or a percentage (around 1.49%) for buying or selling crypto, so the total cost for sending $1,000 could be around $15.

2b. Moderate Network Traffic & Mid-Range Option:

If another person decides to use cross-border payments with crypto for faster,r cheaper international transactions and chooses Ethereum (ETH) and Binance as the crypto exchange, the network fee for ETH crypto transfers ranges from $5-$10. Binance charges around 0.1% for buying or selling crypto, so the total cost for sending $1,000 could be around $17-$20.

3. Global Accessibility to Crossborder Payments with Crypto

Millions of people in the world are without bank accounts, this is due to many reasons such as the absence of required documents needed to open a bank account, incessant deductions from bank accounts, lack of privacy, and lack of transparency of banks.

Cryptocurrency gives global access to anybody anywhere; with nothing but a cell phone, faster and cheaper international transactions can be initiated anywhere. Cross-border payments with crypto are possible with users not limited to a physical location.n

4. Transparency and immutability of Cryptocurrency Payments

In the traditional financial system, banks and remittance companies decide which information to release to the public and classify the records. However, that is not the case with cryptocurrency. Transactions on a blockchain are public and made available for all to see. No one can decide to classify or delete a particular piece of information because blockchain technology offers decentralization, faster transactions, and transparency.

Once a transaction has been added to the blockchain network, it cannot be deleted,d and this feature of the blockchain network makes it trusted, reduces fraudulent activities, and ensures security.

Factors that affect the Use of Cryptocurrency for International Payments

  • Volatity

    The cryptocurrency market is highly volatile, and prices move up or down. A cryptocurrency asset does not have a fixed price; prices move according to market sentiments. A $1000 cross-border payment with crypto might not come out as $1000, depending on the exchange rate.

  • Regulation

    Regulations around cryptocurrency for faster, cheaper international transactions and cross-border payments are still developing, with countries taking different approaches that can impact its use for faster, cheaper international payments.

    Governments are implementing regulations to protect consumers and prevent abuse, with the IMF and Financial Stability Board establishing recommendations for effective regulation. Some countries like Australia and Japan have taken progressive steps by treating cryptocurrencies as legal property, while others have introduced licensing frameworks for cryptocurrency exchanges.

    A few countries have imposed restrictions or outright bans on cryptocurrencies. In 2021, China cracked down on cryptocurrencies, prompting many service providers to migrate to more crypto-friendly countries like Singapore.

    Cryptocurrencies offer potential benefits for faster, cheaper international transactions, but it is important to stay informed about the regulations in your country.

  • Adoption

    The world is seeing increased adoption of cross-border payments with crypto. In 2021, the crypto population increased by 178%, reaching 300 million users worldwide. Businesses like Microsoft, PayPal, Overstock, Etsy, Starbucks, MC Theatres, AT&T, etc. They are also adopting cryptocurrency for payments.

    With crypto experts' growing speculation of Amazon's entry into the crypto space, the future of cryptocurrency for faster, cheaper international transactions is becoming a reality.

Conclusion

Cryptocurrency transactions offer faster, cheaper international transactions compared to traditional banking systems. They eliminate the need for intermediaries and reduce transaction times to minutes.

Cross-border payments with crypto can significantly lower costs associated with international payments by bypassing multiple intermediaries, offering a more cost-effective alternative to traditional wire transfers.

Cryptocurrency international payments provide a borderless payment solution, enabling individuals without access to traditional banking services to participate in international transactions using only a cell phone.

The highly volatile nature of the cryptocurrency market can lead to fluctuations in value, which can impact the final amount received by the recipient in crypto international payments.

The regulation around cross-border payments with crypto is still evolving, with different countries implementing varying regulations that can affect the use of crypto for international payments. Staying informed about regulations is crucial to navigate this space effectively.

While cryptocurrency is growing adoption for international payments, infrastructure may not be universally available, and the need to stay up to date is important.

Before engaging in cross-border payments with crypto, it is advisable to conduct thorough research on specific cryptocurrencies, understand their potential benefits and risks, and stay informed about regulatory developments in your country.