Copyright 2013 John T. Reed
Last night I was web searching for a cheaper, faster way to move money out of the U.S. into my bank accounts in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. I was also looking for a way to make my online store (www.johntreed.com) where I sell my books take one of my recommended currencies instead of US dollars and deposit them directly into that foreign currency account of mine
PayPal seems quite adept at doing a lot of that, however, they also seem quite adept at charging high fees and giving lousy conversions rates according to at least one user’s online experience. Anyone have experience using PayPal to sell products or services in currencies other than USD and/or moving money out of the U.S. to foreign bank accounts via PayPal?
The standard way to move money from a U.S. bank account to a foreign one is by SWIFT wire. But SWIFT is too slow and too expensive. I was in international banking briefly in 1977 which happened to be the year SWIFT was introduced. I was assigned to look into how Crocker National Bank could make use of it. I did. I said we could not use it to gain market share because everyone else had it and it was more or less just a better fax. 36 years later, it is an anachronism.
Tranzfers.com looks interesting, mainly, cheaper and faster than SWIFT. It apparently only works with a handful of countries, but that handful includes three of the four countries whose currencies I recommend. Here is the list with my recommended countries in bold:
UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa and Canada
Switzerland is the currency that is not on the list, but being able to electronically transfer money to your Swiss bank account is, at present, useless for Americans because the Swiss will not currently let Americans have Swiss bank accounts. I bought Swiss franc cash and put it into a safe deposit box in Canada.
Roughly speaking, Tranzfers appears to be faster and cheaper—maybe about half the cost—of SWIFT. I have not tried it yet. Today I expect to send some money to Australia using one of the three free SWIFT transfers I get with my new Charles Schwab bank account (which I got because their ATM card does not have a percentage charge when you use it to withdraw money from a foreign currency ATM).
Transparency is a word I am not thrilled with because its meaning seems a bit vague. But in the case of international money transfers, it has a rather precise meaning. It meas the entity doing the transfers will provide the following answers readily or even without your asking:
How much will you charge me?
When the the money arrive?
What is your conversion rate?
The harder the bank or other money transfer company makes it for you to get answers to the above three questions, the higher and less comptitive their fees, rates, and speed are.
I would like to hear from readers with experience with Tranzfers or who know of reasons not to use it.
My Canadian banker says he never heard of Tranzfers and therefore cannot recommend it. I found a horror story about dealing with them on the web.
Finding a way to have my customers pay, say Canadian dollars, for my books and newsletter seems doable, but a bit more of a hassle than it should be. But as if they were monitoring my Google searches last night, today’s (6/11/13) International Man email tells about moving your digital activities abroad. They reprinted the article from another publication because of the recent NSA revelations.
I am quite appropriately concerned about U.S. capital controls and financial repression laws being imposed on us shortly after hyperinflation starts. International Man extends that to email and your digital data. It provides a number of suggested foreign email providers.
It recommends the search engine DuckDuckGo for producing Google like results but not storing your search history. I have no experience with that. And I must add that I am not concerned about that issue. Maybe I should be. I do not care for the vague paranoia of many in the internationalization community, but neither do I believe the U.S. government is the one that was described in my civics classes in junior high school.
International Man recommends these email providers for being in jurisdictions with better privacy laws than those in the U.S.:
Again, I am not aware of a specific reason to need such, but I am growing increasingly leery of the U.S. government.
In a post I did a couple of days ago about extreme flexibility and stemming from traveling light, I noted you could replace filing cabinets with online data storage, either “the cloud” or a server somewhere. International Man recommends Switzerland-based Wuala which they say encrypts your data and stores it in stronger-privacy-law Switzerland. That I think is clearly a good idea if the cost, reliability, and promised security are good.
I would ask for reader experience, but then I wonder if readers with Swiss data storage are willing to discuss such things. Perhaps one of you guys named “Smith” will tell me of your experience with Wuala using your Swiss anonymous email provider and hiding behind your handle of the day.
I spoke at a privacy conference once—actually put on by erstwhile privacy guru Mark Skousen who is now doing the FreedomFest where I will speak next month. Anyway, lot of guys named “Smith” there. One word of warning about too much privacy: if you have nothing to hide, which I hope is the case, behaving as if you do is liable to draw suspicion from friends, relatives, business associates, and persons and entities with whom you do business. I once had some privacy kook apply to rent a house I owned. After listening to his bragging about not even his bank knowing his address—he went in monthly to pick up his statements—I told him, “I don’t know what you’re doing or why but I will not have any association with you because of all this secrecy. Hit the road.”
In other words if you behave as if you are shady out of some childish Walter Mitty mind set, your are likely to cause people to conclude that you are shady to your great detriment. Indeed, if you somehow ended up in criminal court falsely accused, a pattern of sneaking around in your life may be enough to deprive you of the benefit of the reasonable doubt and get you convicted for something you did not do! This is not a risk-free game.
For businesses, International Man recommends online merchant card processors in Asia include UnionPay and Alipay; in Europe there is PayFair. How about Canada or Australia/New Zealand?
IM recommends not using .com or .net because they are U.S. jurisdiction suggesting co or bz (Colombia or Belieze)-based domains instead. I’m not going there. That would cost you sales for the reason I just described above. If you act like you have something to hide, people will assume that you do, and take their business elsewhere.
They also recommend having your domain hosted in Switzerland or some other high privacy country. That might be okay. But they recommend anonymizing your IP address. Once again, that is likely to get you on a list of IP address anonymizers. Also, I expect for some financial transactions, the various banks and merchant card processors may not allow anonymous IP addresses because of know-your-customer rules, money laundering, etc. One anonymizing IP address IM recommends is Cyptohippie.
With a name like that, I need not comment further on how using too much of this privacy stuff for no good reason can harm your reputation as a serious, trustworthy person or company.
John T. Reed