One Less Customer for Western Union / Moneygram / etc.

Yesterday I decided to see how easy it would be to convince an EU citizen with family in the Philippines that she should no longer be using Western Union / MoneyGram or even smaller companies like Sigue or Ria to remit money to her brother.

Many people won’t have heard of Sigue or Ria. They are more reasonably priced (around 1% transfer cost + margin on the currency exchange for larger amounts >€500) but they also require her to turn up in person, fill out the forms, bring cash, provide ID, etc. … every time!  This family are happy to go to the trouble of shopping around as every Peso that arrives matters a lot.

As an experiment, I sent a small amount of Bitcoin to her e-mail address via Coinbase. I then told her about and asked her to try sending some Philippine Pesos to her brother as quickly and cheaply as possible.


Within a few minutes, she had registered with Coinbase and, moved the Bitcoin across and arranged for about $30 worth of Pesos to be sent directly to her brother’s bank account the next day.  In reality nearly all remittances to the Philippines from Europe are next-day due to the time difference.  Many companies take two days to send funds across.

Using Coinbase and for small remittances is something none of the traditional services available can compete with.  They are roughly equivalent with Sigue and Ria for larger amounts, but so much more convenient (everything can be done from home/office, setup is done just once, etc.).

No more saving up a large amount to send to the Philippines simply to minimise fees.  No more hunting around for the best deal because they are constantly changing.  No more form filling each and every time.

“Tell everyone”, I said.  “Absolutely!”, she replied.

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