Bitcoin wasn’t even a thing, when I last extensively travelled…
Just before the last big trip I took, I opened up a second bank account, especially to use to withdraw my travel money. My original account was used as a host for the bulk of my funds and my second account was used as the one I withdrew money from at the ATMs all over the world.
I thought I was so smart, saving 0.5% on my international withdrawal fees with the second account compared to my standard one. I thought I was being extra safe by not having all my eggs in one basket. The next time I travel, I will do things differently however but before I get into that, I should explain a little around what this post is about.
What is Bitcoin to Resfeber?
You will have seen lots of stories about the Bitcoin bubble, presenting Bitcoin as an investment opportunity. Here at Resfeber, we have no interest in that whatsoever. We see Bitcoin as a money system that has greater levels of transparency, ethics and fairness. We have no investments in Bitcoin and never will have.
Here is what we mean about fairness…
Banks have been getting away with charging us a percentage to withdraw our own money for years. So much so, that we just accept it as the norm but let’s think about that for a moment.
We give a global bank our money and if we want them to give us some of it back and we are not in our home country, they are going to charge us a 3% commission. Not because it costs them any more but just because they can.
Then they have a buffer between the real exchange rate and their own exchange rate, where they are making another few percent on each transaction. Travellers are being robbed blind by global banks.
Example: A bank marketing it’s self as ‘the worlds local bank’ charges 2.75% foreign withdrawal fee and their current exchange rate on euros is £1 = €1.03 when the live rate is actually €1.08. That works out as 7.55% fee in total on ATM withdrawals abroad.
Losing 7.5% of your total travel fund, in our opinion, is a rip off. It doesn’t have to be this way however and Bitcoin could be the answer…
Bitcoin Bad Press
The cryptocurrency has a tarnished reputation due to high-profile cases involving Silk Road and WikiLeaks. Both of these website have been involved in illegal activity and used the Bitcoin system to fund it.
It is unfair to blame Bitcoin for their activities however. That would be like saying the internet is bad because these sites used it. The internet is a reflection of people’s actions and people do good and bad things. Bitcoin is the same – it can be used for charity, just as easily as illegal activity.
Much of the bad press and negativity Bitcoin is coming up against, is because the traditional banking system is afraid that Bitcoin is a better system than they have. Established banks are banning transactions through them involving Bitcoin, in an effort to reduce its growth.
The banking industry is so afraid because they are used to being the sole individuals scrutinising their own transactions and deciding how much money they should make.
Bitcoin is scrutinised in a community way. The banks take a cut from your transactions, whilst with Bitcoin the cut comes from newly created funds, so you don’t lose any money from your transaction.
You shouldn’t just blindly accept all you read though, not here, nor in the newspapers. I have tried and tested the platform myself and found it to be a safe and fair system, if you do your research. You should do the same, if you are considering using Bitcoin.
Whilst Bitcoin may have an image problem due to media splashes and high-profile cases, we should always remember that it was the current banking system that caused the financial crash of 2008 and that it is not in any way, a full-proof system.
Banking On Bitcoin
In fact, the Bitcoin system is argued to be much less corrupt than the current banking system operated by global banks and governments. The Netflix documentary ‘Banking On Bitcoin‘ can explain more and is a fascinating look at the history and current circumstances of cryptocurrency.
By using Bitcoin as a means to transport your own money abroad, you avoid giving your bank somewhere between 5-9% your travel fund in commissions. That would pay for a heck of a lot of fun things to do. More than that though, using Bitcoin for a good, legal and credible reason supports a fairer financial system.
As a traveller or backpacker you are likely to travel through first, second and third world countries and you will see the huge differences in living standards between them.
Most of the people who you see and meet in third world countries won’t have a bank account. It is the basic denial of access to the financial system that perpetuates the poverty of these countries and regions. Slavery and colonisation initiated poverty; the banking and business system we currently use perpetuates it.
So ask yourself as a traveller, would you rather maintain the current unfair banking system and potentially perpetuate third world poverty? Or would you consider supporting a currency system if it was safe, free and could be used by anyone, regardless of credit status or location?
At the moment, this is still a partially theoretical idea, as the Bitcoin exchanges are not readily available to make this happen in a widespread way but it looks like the way forward for travel money and indeed, ethical travel.
Books On Bitcoin
So if you want to investigate further and it would be sensible to do your research. Here is a selection of the most authoritative books on Bitcoin.
Digital Gold – New York times reporter, Nathaniel Popper, looks in at the Bitcoin revolutions from the outside, interviewing its leading characters and gets their inside stories.
The Internet of Money – Lots of books on cryptocurrency delve into how the technology works but few are able to understand why Bitcoin is happening and the social conditions that are creating the desire for it. Greek-British author, Andreas Antonopoulos, does this perfectly with his book.
Blockchain Revolution – One of the most comprehensive explanation of the Bitcoin system, how it is impacting money, business and the world. A joint authored book by Canadian’s, Don and Alex Tapscott.
If these books are a little too long for your attention span, then I’d highly recommend checking out Matt Barby’s new Cyrpto website, as a credible source of information. Matt is an SEO expert with a great reputation, so you can rely on his association to this project.
Whilst Bitcoin remains a volatile currency, it is wise not to hold large sums of money in Bitcoin, unless you are very well versed in the market.
Instead, for travellers, we see this solution as being a way you can transfer money from place to place, without any of the fees banks charge.
Example: Lets say you are from Australia but travelling in Sweden. You could hold you travel fund in your home bank account and every time you need some money, you could theoretically transfer some into a Bitcoin wallet, then transfer the funds into a Swedish bank account for free.
This significantly decreases the risk of your travel fund depreciating in value, due to cryptocurrency volatility, as your money would only be in the Bitcoin system for a matter of minutes.
The only issue we have here, is whose account are you going to transfer the funds into in Sweden? Can you trust them and what would happen if things go wrong. Perhaps you would need to use a Bitcoin exchange which would be subject to some fees but less than the current banks charge.
There are many Bitcoin exchange networks worldwide and you may want to research where these are and how they work. You will also need to research ‘wallets’ to hold your funds in escrow, before they are transferred on to the final point.