Banco Masventas, a bank based in Argentina, has launched a new service as of 22 May 2018 which will utilize Bitcoin to facilitate international money transfers. This is a major milestone for Bitcoin, since it is likely the first time it has been used by a financial institution as an international payments standard.
The bank is partnering with Bitex, a Latin America-based Bitcoin exchange, to facilitate the international payments. In an interview with Coindesk, Bitex chief marketing officer Manuel Beaudroit said that customers won’t actually be touching any Bitcoin when using this new international payment service offered by Banco Masventas. The customer simply asks the bank to send an international payment from their account, and the bank in coordination with Bitex will handle converting their fiat funds to Bitcoin and back again when it reaches its international destination.
This service offered through Bitex will allow Banco Masventas customers to significantly reduce costs associated with international transfers since there will be no international banks as intermediaries. Also, international transfers will be faster than other systems, occurring in less than 24 hours. It only takes 10 minutes for a Bitcoin transaction to confirm on average, but it will take some time to convert fiat to Bitcoin and back to fiat.
International transfers will be available to over 50 countries, and Banco Masventas will be charging a 3% commission.
Of course, Bitex’s process of converting fiat to Bitcoin and back to fiat when the money reaches its international destination is inherently centralized and possibly not entirely cryptographically secure. Customers will have to trust Banco Masventas and Bitex when using this new international transfer service.
Sending Bitcoin by itself with no other service involved actually makes more sense if control of your money and security is the priority. Of course, using purely Bitcoin is less convenient since ultimately it usually needs to be converted into fiat before it can be used to buy goods and services. Bitex streamlines the process of converting Bitcoin payments to fiat, which can be quite an arduous process if someone had to do it themselves. Also, using the service offered through Bitex removes the risk of market volatility.
It is a big deal that any bank is using Bitcoin to transfer money across international borders, and this may be the beginning of banks recognizing and utilizing Bitcoin as a trustworthy payment method in the future. Bitcoin’s ability to transfer money anywhere in the world instantly and securely is gaining recognition.
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