Smartest ways to compare money transfer services

June 8, 2019

Comparing various money transfer services can be a somewhat tedious task. Identifying the best method ties in to a range of factors such as the amount you’re sending, where you and the recipient are located, the currencies involved, and your priorities more generally. Nevertheless, especially if you’re planning on making regular transfers, taking some time to compare services is worth it and can save you quite a bit of money.

First, let’s break down some of the main things you’ll want to consider. Then, let’s have a look at some of the various options out there. Finally, let’s get into a bit more detail on how Bitspark is re-inventing cross border money transfers.

What to think about when sending money overseas

Before you compare the various options, it’ll be good to determine your circumstances and set your priorities. Here are a few things to consider:


This is not just about deciding whether you’d be willing to visit a brick-and-mortar store or would rather do it online, but also about how fast you need the transfer to be completed.


When it comes to fees, it’s important to realise that fees are charged at multiple points during the process of transferring money. Costs are not only incurred by the main service providers, but also in the form of exchange rates.


Know your customer and anti-money laundering regulations are getting tougher. Some money transfer service providers require a lot of paperwork to verify your and your recipient’s identity and address.


Sending money overseas, especially if it involves an exotic currency can take very long and in traditional infrastructures needs to go through multiple middlemen.


Having a bank account is far from universal. It’s important to realise that many developing countries are cash-based economies and as such cash-friendliness may be a relevant factor to consider.


While strong currencies such as USD, EUR and RMB may be relatively stable, exchange rates fluctuate constantly, especially when it involves exotic currencies and even more so in the case of crypto.

How can you transfer money abroad?

Now, let’s have a look at the various options and how the above factors are implicated.

Bank transfer

Of course, transferring money from bank to bank is a common method. Not only is online banking convenient, but also because most of us already have bank accounts, meaning the infrastructure is there, bank transfers are often preferred. Under this category, we would also place emergent credit card based payment solutions as they leverage the same infrastructure.

Nevertheless, cross border bank transfers can be expensive and often extremely slow. In most cases, in addition to a high administration fee, when sending money across currencies, a cost is also incurred in the form of unfavourable exchange rates. Unless both accounts are held in the same bank, cross border bank transfers can last anywhere between a day to over a week.

Online money transfer services

These types of services include companies such as PayPal and TransferWise. In the case of PayPal, sending money between PayPal accounts can be done in a matter of minutes. Additionally, a lot of online e-commerce businesses accept PayPal payments. However, withdrawing money from your PayPal to your personal bank account, or transferring to another bank account takes 3-5 working days, comes at a high fee, and is subject to conversion rates.

Similarly, while transferring money with TransferWise can be faster, up until about 2 days, and cheaper compared to regular bank transfers, the cost incurred in the form of exchange rates needs to be critically looked at and is not always favourable.

Money Transfer Operators (MTOs)

MTOs, such as Western Union and MoneyGram, are mostly used to facilitate remittances. They are usually cheaper and faster than bank transfers, a little less convenient in that you will have to visit the agency in person (unless using credit card enabled online services), but most importantly, they are cash-friendly.

Although MTOs have played an incredibly important role in serving cash-economies and bankless populations, de-risking activities are pushing small, independent agencies out of the market, leaving only the larger players intact. Especially in the context of remittances, the fees charged by MTOs are unnecessarily high, especially when sending money to countries with weaker currencies.

Read more about how exchange rates work here.

Crypto transfers

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin are digital assets that operate and exist only on a blockchain. Just as sending an email to your neighbour is no different from sending it across the world in terms of speed, transferring crypto from wallet to wallet is easy, fast, and can be very cheap, irrespective of borders.  However, while this method practically removes borders and middlemen, it is not as easy as that.

Transferring crypto still requires on- and off-ramps, meaning there must be ways to obtain crypto and means to revert back to fiat. Some exchanges, such as Coinbase and Binance, enable users to purchase crypto with their credit card, although only the main currencies such as USD and EUR are accepted. Similarly, online over-the-counter desks (OTCs) sometimes support credit cards or even PayPal to obtain crypto. In all cases, in addition to the fees charged by the exchange, your bank may also charge a fee. Also, if you want to withdraw crypto and revert back to fiat, you will need to have a bank account, pay fees and, once again, wait a long time before your funds show up in your account.

Another issue with crypto transfers relates to volatility. Bitcoin, as well as all the other major altcoins, are infamously volatile. This is of interest to speculators, but not ideal for transfers and payments.

How is Bitspark re-inventing cross border money transfers?

At Bitspark, we are re-inventing money transfers by leveraging the power of crypto, without its volatility, and in a manner that is inclusive of bankless populations. In fact, for our service banks are simply not needed.

In order to facilitate money transfers, we use fiat pegged stablecoins which are cryptocurrencies tied to the value of fiat. In order to send money abroad, you can visit any of our 500,000 affiliates to trade cash for a stablecoin of your choice. For example, if you wish to send money from Hong Kong to Russia, simply trade in your cash in HKD for the equivalent amount in BitRuble and instantly transfer the funds to your contact who is then able to exchange their crypto for cash in their local currency.

Apart from brick-and-mortar stores, stablecoins can also be purchased through SparkDex, our decentralised exchange, our web platform, or from anybody who has registered as an inclusion point.

Because there are no relevant exchange rates and transfers are peer-to-peer, compared to banks and traditional MTOs fees are negligible, falling well below 1%.

If you want to learn more about stablecoins be sure to read our FAQs or read our recent publication on the state and future of cryptocurrency remittances by Bitspark’s co-founder George Harrap.

More on money transfers:

Five Simple (But Important) Things To Remember About Sending Money Using Blockchain

How To Find The Best Money Exchange Provider?

Top 6 Business Payment Providers In Asia 2019

Why Is Sending Money So Expensive?

Make sure to follow and share Bitspark’s journey on Twitter or Linkedin.

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