Living and working in Europe, I have still kept accounts in Australia open as I still sometimes work there, and of course family is also still there. So it is handy to have an Australia account and credit card for the times that visit the motherland.
Most of the time, I have no need to shuttle money from AUD to EUR or vice versa. It pretty much is a closed system, our life and work is primarily in Europe, and so we use our European accounts pretty much exclusively. Likewise, we only use our Australian accounts when we are in Australia (maybe at best, once a year if we are lucky!), and otherwise they remain dormant.
However, in the near future, I might need to move some money from Australia to Europe, and I was keen to test out the advantages and disadvantages of moving the money via crypto versus moving the money via the international banking system. So, to test this, I moved 100 AUD to see how feasible it was (and to test the crypto side of international transfers) and to see if there were any added advantages to the crypto method of moving money from Australia to Europe.
Well, this was a pretty straight-forward international transfer at the bank market rates for the AUD/EUR pair. There was of course a small fee at the sending end, but happily no receiving end fee. The process took the usual couple of days via the SWIFT system and was completely hassle free (although it was a well known and well trodden path).
From the 100 AUD deposit, I managed an exit of 61.94 EURO. There was a 6 AUD fee at the sending end, and I was subject to the bank's interpretation of the AUD/EUR market rate.
The exchanges that I used were CoinJar (on the sending side in Australia) and BitStamp (on the exiting end in Europe). The crypto that I used for the sending was LTC (LiteCoin), which I chose due to it's relative stability and low transaction fee, although in the future, if I was sending larger amounts I might choose a basket of currencies to hedge against price fluctuations. The LTC was converted immediately at market rate to EUR, to avoid any sudden price fluctuations, however, in the future, if I had time I might consider putting in orders for a more favourable exchange rate.
In the end, the money was received at the EUR bank end at pretty much the same time. This was due completely to the bottlenecks at the two exchanges going from bank-exchange and then out again exchange-bank. The LTC transfer was comparatively instant (~15 minutes)
From the 100 AUD deposit, I exited with 61.81 EUR. There was a tiny conversion fee (AUD-LTC), a negligible transaction fee (LTC) and a 0.90 EUR exiting fee from Bitstamp.
In the end (for the small amount of money, 100 AUD), it was pretty much a dead heat. The banking system is more developed and mature, so there was some comfort to be had in the safety of that. However, it was all in the hand's of the bank at what market rate I would get for the transfer.
Going the crypto route was interesting, but was hobbled by the banking-exchange connection in time. If I was going to keep it in crypto (so, if I was buying things in crypto rather than in fiat), then it would be the superior route hands down, however, we are not yet at that point for the larger economy. There is also some risk in going via a third currency, in that the AUD-crypto-EUR rate is not necessarily linked to the AUD-EUR rate, and this could be either in my favour or against me depending on the day.
The biggest advantage of the banking system at the moment is the relative safety that is built in. You know what you are getting when you start. The crypto system has it's advantages in the potential lower fees and speed (if you stay in crypto), and also a potential for a higher rate if you are prepared with time.
It was an interesting thing to do, and I think for a larger amount it might be worth going the crypto route, especially if I have a few weeks to hold it and wait for a better rate... and I do think that within the month, I will likely test this idea. I will run half via the banking system and half via crypto to see how it performs. I will also keep better track of the fees and all the little details, to get a clearer understanding.
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