Exchanging Your Local Money for Global Currency

It always happens.

You travel abroad, and you want some cash in your pocket.

So, you exchange your travel money into local currency.

The dilemma is, how much should you exchange?

You don’t want to fall short.

But you also don’t want to have so much spare cash left over that you have to bring it back once the trip is over.

If you are anything like me, you probably have a bag full of international money in your drawer. Local banks don’t usually accept deposits in foreign currency, so it will probably sit in the drawer until the next time you travel.

You could always exchange it back…for a fee, of course.

Or spend the extra cash at the airport…

…or give it to a worthy cause.

If you are departing from Amsterdam, you now have another option.

You can exchange it for Bitcoin or Ethereum.

Bitcoin ATM

The Schiphol Amsterdam Airport is the first airport in Europe to install a ‘Bitcoin ATM’. It allows you to exchange your leftover euros for Bitcoin and Ethereum and access that cash at home.

As the Airport’s director of Consumer Products & Services said in a press release:

With the Bitcoin ATM, we hope to provide a useful service to passengers by allowing them to easily exchange ‘local’ euros for the ‘global’ cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and Ethereum. That can be beneficial if, for instance, it’s not possible to spend euros in their home country.

The truth is that cryptos are borderless.

In Russia, the 2018 FIFA World Cup is in full swing. According to the Russian news agency TASS, about 1.5 million foreigners are expected to visit Russia during the 2018 world cup.

And some vendors are already giving visitors the option to pay in bitcoin for trips, hotels, bars, betting…you name it.

Remember, Russia is still suffering sanctions from the US and the European Union.

As reported by BTC Manager:

Hotels across the 11 World Cup venues had begun accepting bitcoin from as early as April 2018. Merchants across Russia will accept bitcoin too. The idea of adopting bitcoin is that tourists will no longer be subjected to the hassles of exchanging their currencies. The World Cup could be an event where bitcoin indeed emerges as a decentralized global currency.

‘Due to the American trade embargo over Russia, certain companies cannot service within the geography of Russia. A few of the companies that fall under the purview are from the finance, banking and fintech industry. As a result, tourists arriving in Russia from around the world may be in for a surprise when they find out that they are unable to make payments.

Cryptos make it easier for tourists to access their money

How does bitcoin do this?

Well, unlike the Australian dollar or the Euro, bitcoin is a decentralised system. It doesn’t have a country of jurisdiction.

Instead, bitcoin lives on the blockchain network, which is on the internet. The blockchain is a shared public ledger, a database that records and holds every transaction. A ledger that every member of the network can contribute to.

Payments between users don’t go through a middleman. Instead, the blockchain allows us to transfer value over the internet without the need of a trusted authority.

As technologist Andreas Antonopoulos recently said in a Forum in California:

Regulators are the first group to be massively disrupted by this technology because it has removed their ability to control money flows because money stopped flowing. And this is going to force us to face a world in which money exists universally and can have change ownership without ever being transmitted and borders are completely meaningless…

What happens when money is data? And that’s what this technology does. It is data and it is in the cloud and it isn’t being transported…

But, as he continued, it is not only an easier way to have access to your money when you travel.

The idea that money becomes a system of control to play geopolitical games through embargos and currency controls is itself a relic of the industrial era. And is being made rapidly obsolete by this technology. It has radical geopolitical implications. It removes the ability of sovereigns to control monetary supply.

In an increasingly unstable world, people are already starting to turn to cryptocurrencies as a way to protect capital against political and economic turmoil. Like in Venezuela, where hyperinflation is ravaging the country.

Could bitcoin become the main global currency?

We are not sure.

Bitcoin transactions are still a relatively small fraction. According to blockchain.info, there are about 158,000 bitcoin transactions per day. This is a far cry from the 150 million transactions visa processes every day.

It may not even be bitcoin. But, there is no question that money is changing…and that borderless global currencies are already a reality.


Selva Freigedo,
Editor, Markets & Money

PS: Bitcoin was the first use of blockchain. Yet blockchain is already being applied to other areas, and this technology could change the whole way the world operates. If you are interested in investing in blockchain, click here.

Selva Freigedo is an analyst with a background in financial economics. Born and raised in Argentina, she has also lived in Brazil, the US and Spain. She has seen economic troubles firsthand, from economic booms to collapses and the ravaging effects of hyperinflation, high unemployment, deposit freezes and debt default. Selva now writes from her vantage point here in Australia. She is lead Editor at the daily e-letter Markets & Money. And every week, she goes through each report and research note produced by our global network of trusted advisors to find the best investment opportunities for you in Australia and overseas. She packages these opportunities for you in Global Investor.

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