Cross border money transfer, yes you can do it yourself

If you want to send your kid some money in a foreign country you can go to your bank and they will make a very wonderful show of filling in forms and they do mysterious ceremonious dances to show how difficult this transaction is and how many steps in their hierarchies are to be taken to get your money all the way to a bank in Farawayistan, and for a sizable service fee from you for sure.


This is nonsense, since the banks have had in operation a bank-to-bank money transfer network called SWIFT for decades, and all they have to do is enter the numbers you provided and it is transferend within milliseconds to the receiving account in the foreign bank. Yes to the customers at both ends they pretend that it takes days because they want  to get interest on your money while it is kept in transit, to earn money for the banks costs. That is not going to change whether we want it or not.

What is going to change is that by internet banking we can type in the info for the transfer ourselves, which is then forwarded by bankcomputers to SWIFT, so that the ceremony in the bank office and the extra costs for that, will be lifted.

Funds transfer

In fact the difference between domestic and foreign banktransfers by online internet banking is lifted, from your laptop/smartphone/tablet. It does not matter where the recipient resides and what bank he/she uses there, as long as you know the banknumber and accountnumber. This user facility has been available and in use for quite some time now. Well, some less civilised (or should we say more self-centred) countries like China and the USA have not introduced this facility yet. The result is less cost and faster online money transfer. Which is good for trade transactions and society links across borders.

How does it work? Instead of entering a bank account number for the recipient you have to enter the IBAN (International Bank Account Number) for that persons/company’s account, which includes the account number in a certain way. The construction format of the IBAN for the respective countries is shown in

If all is well the IBAN for your own account is printed on every bank statement you get from your bank. So the recipient should be able to tell it to you. Funny enough some banks refuse to tell the IBAN of a client to you “to protect their privacy”. Rubbish, who does not want to receive money? And if you or your company sends bills, print the IBAN on the bill next to the bankaccount number, this saves clients from having to make phone calls to get it. In reality the bank offices do not like to be dis-intermediated by Internet. Well behaving like an obstacle on the information highway will not lengthen their viability. They better start giving real services to customers, right?

bank network

Well as usual the USA government, and probably several other countries,  want to see what happens in transnational SWIFT traffic to trace money flows etc, so assume your privacy is zero already.

If you want to test this DIY function, send me an email and I will reply with my IBAN, so you can send me a small amount, which I will keep 🙂  and I will mail you back when it arrived on my account [ van till at gmail dot  com]

The change I describe here is about Electronic Funds transfer from Bank-Bank to Account-Account. End-to-End like it should, without having to ask anybodies permission.

PS The RaboBank in the Netherlands now gives online instructions how to do money transfer cross border with internet banking (in Dutch) “Met een Wereldbetaling maak je snel en eenvoudig geld over naar ieder land in de wereld:   “. They DO charge something though, while you can choose if you / shared/ recipient pays the charge. For the intermediary computer processing, right?!

Jaap van Till, connectivist

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2 Responses to Cross border money transfer, yes you can do it yourself

  1. Bernard Veerman says:

    About 15 years ago I wrote a column, titled: “Will borders still exist a 100 years from now”. In this column I compared the traditional way of travelling and travelling on the internet. Like if I want to visit the US, I need to supply my personalia by ESTA, and wait for an immigration clearance. For a lot of other countries in the world, I need a visum from their ambassade. In all situations I need a valid travell document, issued by my country called a passport. Without all these, it is impossible to travell from country to country. Leaving a country and accessing a country is done by crossing borders, controled by border security. If, however, I sit down at my pc, laptop, tablet or smartphone, I type in an URL, press ENTER and I cross one or more borders without a passport, ESTA, or visum. Worse than that, in most cases I don’t even know in which country I am at a certain moment, and have not the faintest idea how I got there. I mean, how cables, repeaters, servers etc. got me there. So, if I don’t need these documents sitting at my keyboard, then why do I need them to travell? Mr. van Till goes even further in his column, and makes it clear that (inter)national money transfers also don’t need the service of a bankteller anymore. There are two things that bother me: 1) Physical border protection increases to an almost unreal level, take for instance the Homeland Security in the USA , and 2) the totall denial of borders if you travell on digital highways and the lack of (inter)national laws to proctect all parties involved. Technical newbees and thechnology develops in much faster tempo than society can absorb it, so where is this all leading to? Most likely fraude, money laundry, theft, etc. will be using these new facillities, and legislation and regulation will follow far too late. I think that James Gleick made a right statement in his book “Chaos” (1987) and more or less gave the solution: “If we experience chaos, we’re on the wrong level of observation”.

    • broodjejaap says:

      Sorry mr. Veerman I think that your worries are misplaced in this case. I did not write that there is no control over the financial transfers cross border or domestic. There surely is, especially over amounts above a certain amount. All I did was to show that the mumbojumbo at the bank teller is skipped, just like the way you can book a flight online without going to a travel bureau. I think that you confuse chaos with something “new and unexpected”. The elaborate ceremonies at the teller and the trouble to go there during business hours simply have no function or added value anymore. Many functions of Nation States fade away to be relevant, not all though.

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