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How To Use Crypto for Cheap International Remittances

The steep cost of international remittances has stumped policy wonks and think-tank organizations for decades. According to the World Bank, the average remittance fees charged on a transaction are anywhere from 3.4% to a prohibitive 25.2% in the latest statistics.

Remittances — money sent home to families by migrant relatives — play a massive role in nations’ economies. Not only do they stimulate the macro economy but they also help individual families meet basic needs and make ends meet.

As such, it’s a bummer that sending money overseas is so expensive. Some reasons for this state of affairs include high exchange rates, operational costs, and compliance costs.

Enter cryptocurrencies. 

Thanks to being decentralized (hence no intermediaries), borderless (not tied to any jurisdiction), and having no conversion rate, cryptocurrencies are cheaper for sending money than conventional pathways such as banks and money transfer operators (MTOs)

This piece delves into ways you can take advantage of crypto for cheap international remittances.

You can use crypto for remittances

Peer-to-peer Exchange Transfers

Crypto exchanges let you buy, sell, and transfer crypto. You can send money in the form of crypto to anyone, anywhere in the world (barring legal considerations).

First, you’d need to create an account on an exchange, which involves submitting your Know Your Customer (KYC) information. Once you have an account, you need to fund it by buying crypto directly through the exchange (using the funding methods it supports). 

The next step is to navigate to the “Send” or “Withdraw” option, select the crypto to send, and enter the recipient’s wallet address. You’ll be asked to specify the amount, after which you must enter a verification code to complete the transaction.

Depending on the blockchain and network activity, it can take a few minutes to several hours for the recipient to see the money in their account. To receive crypto, your recipient should have a cryptocurrency wallet compatible with the crypto you want to send. 

You can save on transaction fees by sending crypto during low network congestion. Websites like,, and allow people to gauge current network activity levels.  

Crypto-Based Money Transfer Startups 

If you don’t want the hassle of transferring crypto directly, you can get a crypto transfer startup to do the job for you. You’ll realize, though, that setting up an account in such a company is similar to an exchange.

Like an exchange, crypto remittance services are a long way from traditional payment channels in terms of cost and speed. Sending money via a remittance service would include the following steps:

  1. Setting up an account by providing your KYC information 
  2. Depositing the amount of crypto you’d like to send 
  3. Providing information about the recipient (name, country, bank or mobile money details, local currency, and so on)

The service will convert the crypto into the desired fiat currency and send it directly to the recipient’s bank or mobile money wallet. An example of one such startup is Strike, where they use the bitcoin network as their transaction layer, and both parties can use fiat.

Leveraging the Lightning Network (for Bitcoin transactions)

The Lightning Network (LN) is a layer 2 scaling solution built on the Bitcoin protocol to solve Bitcoin’s scaling problems. LN allows two transaction parties to open a payment channel and conduct as many transactions as they want without broadcasting them to the main chain — except for the closing and opening balances. 

Since transactions occur off the main chain, the result is near-instant and low-cost transactions.

To send money on the LN, you can set up your own lightning node (for the technical-minded) or use a remittance service that supports it. For the latter, you’ll first need to obtain a bitcoin wallet that supports the technology, such as Blue Wallet, Muun, and Wallet of Satoshi. 

Next, fund your wallet by transferring the money from an existing wallet or purchasing it from an exchange. You’ll then need a remittance service that supports the LN, such as CashApp, Bitpay, and Bitnob.

The next step would be following the service’s instructions for sending the payment. Upon receiving an invoice from the recipient, you can initiate the transaction.

Using Low-Fees Cryptocurrencies

Other cryptocurrency also act a conduit for international remittances. Cryptocurrencies such as Solana (SOL), Litecoin (LTC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) — all of which are viable options, depending on if the recipient can exchange them into their local currency.

If you aren’t using the LN with BTC, and the service you use doesn’t cover the fee of sending that transaction, sending BTC on the main chain can cost between 0.4 and $2, while sending LTC costs $0.011.

By using the less popular cryptocurrencies, you achieve the same purpose as when using the popular cryptocurrencies and save money. This is especially important if you’re sending small amounts of value.

What's the Catch?

Like with anything, there are drawbacks to using crypto with remittances. These include:

  1. Volatility: Cryptocurrency prices fluctuate a ton. Your recipient can incur a loss if the market moves in the wrong direction between the time it was sent and the time it’s converted. To avert this, waiting until the market shows a semblance of predictability before sending/withdrawing is best. Another option is to use stablecoins. 
  2. No internet connectivity? Forget about it: At the very least, you need a device connected to the internet to send or receive crypto. This can lock out many people who don’t know their way around the web or can’t access it.
  3. Learning curve: Transferring crypto is child’s play when you get the hang of it. But before then, you need to learn how to send crypto safely.

Closing Thoughts

International remittances are a lifeline for millions of families worldwide — but a large portion of their money is shaved off in a convoluted process. Unlike fiat, crypto is independent and thus faster and cheaper. You’ll need a bit of practice to begin — which is better than paying the sky-high fees of the traditional way.

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Hope Mutie

About the Author

Hope Mutie

Hope Mutie is a professional writer and editor whose interests include fintech, cryptocurrency, and blockchain. She engages with crypto audiences by curating content that’s fun-to-read, educational, and offers unmatched value. Hope is part of the brilliant team at Go Full Crypto – a podcast and service that enables your transition into crypto.

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