Cryptocurrency analyst. Founder and editor at btcpeers.com
Sending money to certain countries remains a ludicrously expensive affair. Initiating a transfer from the UAE or US to India, for example, falls into two categories. It is either extremely expensive, or inexplicably slow to do so. Innovative solutions can make a meaningful impact in this regard,
Comparing the many different services providing AED remittances to India, there are some interesting trends that become apparent. There are multiple services that charge absolutely no "operational fee", but will charge a higher exchange rate fee. This can cause a transfer of 735 AED tol be subject to fees as high as 10.51 AED.
More importantly, exploring this service can take anywhere from the same business day to waiting a maximum of two business days. Opting for "cheaper" services is not always ideal when time is of the essence.
Glancing at the other services, things are not getting much better. There are a few providers ensuring transfers within hours, but they may charge a fee of up to 16 AED on top of the exchange ratio conversion. Total costs can run as high as 2 7AED for this "speed" advantage, and they require users to effectively visit physical offices to initiate the transfer itself.
A very similar situation occurs when looking at remittances from the US to India. Numerous options are available, and some are much cheaper than others. Comparing the different providers shows that fees are less of a problem overall, which is certainly an interesting aspect.
When it comes to the transfer time, however, things are a bit different. MoneyGram, for example, takes 4 days to complete a transfer. ICICI Bank needs 5 days, with Western Union and Skrill hovering between two and four days. All of this seems to take a lot longer than it really should. Keeping that in mind, it is evident there is a lot of room for competing solutions that are both cheaper and more efficient.
Cryptocurrencies are, by default, in a prime position to disrupt the remittance industry altogether. Currencies such as Bitcoin are borderless by nature, and can be moved around the world online without any real problems. Moreover, converting Bitcoin to more commonly used currencies is always possible, albeit there may be some fees to contend with in the process. How high these fees are, will depend heavily on how one converts Bitcoin to INR.
Overall, there have been a few interesting experiments highlighting the potential of Bitcoin remittances. As documented by CoinCrunch, it is possible to make a profit when using Bitcoin to send money to India, instead of losing money along the way. This will primarily depend on whether or not the Indian crypto markets maintain a price premium. More often than not, there will be a premium, slightly affecting the overall rates in the process.
In the end, using Bitcoin for remittance purposes can require a bit of work. Leveraging prices and conversion rates of different platforms and applications can significantly influence the amount of INR to be received. From a convenience point of view, this is not ideal. Sending money should be simple, straightforward, fast, and cheap. Bitcoin is not on that level yet, but there are options to be explored regardless.
Being the biggest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, Binance has launched a number of different products, services, and charitable efforts. On the cryptocurrency side, the exchange recently integrated Kava as a DeFi solution. Doing so brings financial service and products to users worldwide, regardless of current access to the banking system.
One of the newer services to check out is simply known as Binance P2P, as it focuses on transferring money from one country to another. This makes an intriguing tool for remittances, both to India and otherwise. Considering how the remittance industry represents $715 billion annually and will keep rising every year, finding innovative solutions is of the utmost importance.
What makes Binance P2P so intriguing is how it allows users to exchange currencies on the go. Underpinning rates are a lot more competitive than any broker, money transfer service, or FX provider will offer at any given time.
Depending on the overall market circumstances, it can be profitable to exchange between different currencies. There are always some interesting spreads between currencies to explore, which is exactly what this service will provide convenient access to, albeit indirectly.
Using the application is straightforward. Users buy cryptocurrency through the currency of the country they currently live in. With support for numerous stablecoins, there are ways to protect against unexpected volatility. Once a transaction is completed, the crypto asset can be sent to another Binance account. This is done without paying fees, as internal transfers are provided free of charge.
It is then up to the recipient to convert crypto to cash through P2P trading once again. Using stablecoins will be beneficial in this regard, as they keep their value without any problems. Considering how the app provides more competitive FX rates compared to traditional services, users will effectively receive more money than they would otherwise. Removing the fees from the equation ensures the recipients receive the full amount they are entitled to.
Furthermore, using Binance P2P ensures transactions can be completed near real-time. Even the fastest remittance provider takes at least two hours to fully convert and credit transactions, which users often still need to pick up in person. With Binance’s solution, transfers are quicker, cheaper, more efficient, and money can be received in the comfort of one’s own home.
Various companies are already exploring the benefit of combining cryptocurrency with remittances. Especially when it comes to moving funds from the US to India. The US is the second-highest ranked country for sending money to India, resulting in a yearly volume of over $11.715 billion. A segment ripe for disruption, to say the very least.
Level01 for example, is taking up an interesting position in the market. As a decentralized derivatives peer-to-peer finance platform, the platform connects people to trade forex, crypto and commodities using their LVX token which can be moved around quicker and safer than the money transfer industry as a whole. Traders can transfer or cash out their LVX token on certain exchanges for fiat, thereby enabling money transfer in an indirect way. In addition, they have a powerful AI called FairSense that provides real-time price valuations to traders. This DeFi application is currently available to all Android users.
Nominex is another player to keep an eye on. With over 40 currency pairs to choose from, the platform opens up a lot of opportunities for those looking to explore different markets. Users can even withdraw funds with their bank card, paving the way for some remittance-oriented solutions further down the line. It is not the most straightforward platform for this specific purpose, but it does provide a service that can be useful to move money from the US to India.
Cashaa is a crypto-friendly business-oriented platform that can help Indian individuals and companies tap into the cryptocurrency industry. Creating a hassle-free banking experience for all types of users - both locally and on an international scale - can make its mark on the remittance industry. Being able to take payments from anywhere, and exploring both FX and crypto liquidity, are the main selling points.
BTW, did you know that back in 2018 WazirX launched world's first auto-matching P2P engine? Their user-experience targeted approach has helped them to become one of the market leaders in the Indian crypto ecosystem with over $135 Million USD worth of P2P trades executed till now. In November 2019, WazirX was acquired by Binance.
Other providers in the space exist, although the opinions on these services are rather divided. Recommending any of them is difficult, as there are always some people with negative experiences. There is plenty of room for competing platforms willing to tackle the US-to-India remittance segment. It is a very big market that needs to be modernized as quickly as possible.
For Bitcoin and other crypto assets to make an impact on remittance transfers, convenient solutions are needed. Based on what Binance P2P provides, there are ways to ensure recipients obtain the full amount of money being sent, in their preferred currency, and without fees. This process is simple, straightforward, and yields significantly better results.
That being said, convincing the average person on the street to start using non-traditional money transfer solutions will remain a key hurdle. There is a lot of concern regarding cryptocurrencies, primarily in terms of volatility and regulation. Using stablecoins can help alleviate a lot of these concerns, but most people aren't even aware such currencies exist.
Through proper educational efforts, the full potential of cryptocurrencies and stablecoins will be achieved eventually. Especially those who use remittance transfers on a regular basis may want to take notice of what this entire industry has to offer.