The ease of making financial transactions and financial services in general, had first been revolutionised when telegraph companies introduced wire transfers. But with the coming of new age financial services like Bitcoin and Ripple, it is the time we address the question of what the future holds for the financial services of the world.
Traditional Wire Transfers
Let us begin by first taking a look at how things have been going on for these past 150 years since wire transfers were first introduced. Transferring funds using a wire transfer method via a bank is not a single step process but a multi-step process. It is like this:
- The sender approaches his or her bank and orders the transfer of funds to an account. Unique codes like BIC and IBAN codes are provided to the bank by the sender so that the bank knows exactly where the funds need to be transferred.
- The sender’s bank contacts the receiver’s bank by sending a message through a security system, such as Fedwire or SWIFT, signalling it that a transfer needs to be made. The receiver’s bank receives this message, which includes settlement instructions as well, and then asks the sender’s bank to transfer the amount specified in the message.
- The sender’s bank now transfers the amount. This is not done in one go but bit by bit, so it can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days for the entire sum to be transferred.
- To make the transfer, the two banks must have a reciprocal account with one another. If that is not the case, the transfer is made through a correspondent bank that holds such an account.
As one can see, this form of transfer relies overly on a mediator, takes more time than it should, and can prove to be costly as the banks charge some fee for their service. Distributed currencies like Bitcoin provide a viable alternative to this process.
What sets services like Bitcoin apart from traditional services is that they do not rely on a central mediator but rather operate using cryptographic protocols. The process is therefore faster, simpler, and much more efficient. The system is quite transparent to both end users as well while traditional systems are susceptible to fraud due to the complex process involved.
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