I had not travelled outside the country for the past four years now. Yes, a lot of it could be attributed to the pandemic. Also the fact that lord Satoshi had NOT showered his financial blessings upon me, until now. So when the stars aligned, I decided to take my first trip powered by ‘crypto money’ to Turkey. It was indeed a much needed break. I wanted to figure out some life stuff before I entered into the next leg of web3 professionally (more on it some other time).
The idea was to stop reviewing crypto stuff for once and immerse myself in the vacation. Only problem? Crypto was never ‘work’ for me! I forgot about it totally. So when I landed in Istanbul and purchased my SIM card, the first thing I did was check my portfolio. And soon after, I was about to find yet another insane use case of crypto. That is what this Blogpost is about. How crypto rescued me (yet again) in a completely unknown terrain!
Okay. Before we moved ahead, I want to admit something. I am indeed a master of goof ups. In fact, it won’t take long to actually count the instances where everything I was responsible for, went absolutely smooth. So why should this time be different, right?
Like an extremely responsible citizen I decided to keep all our EURO in our hotel safe and carry just the bare minimum with us. After all, it is prudent to safeguard yourself from pickpockets. However, what I didn’t realise is the potential to shop like crazy in this area called ‘Taksim Square’. So after a continuous spree, when we felt hungry, yours truly was out of money!
Also, we couldn’t even take a cab back to the hotel to fund our meal. Why? You know it already. Stop embarrassing me now. Before resorting to beg, borrow, steal we decided to start moving back in the direction of our hotel (it was about 3.5km). And about 800m down the road, I found something that I haven’t seen in India before.
The Crypto Exchange:
No. It is not Uniswap or Picasso etc. It is a physical exchange where I could get my hands on some Turkish Lira by paying in USDT, BTC or XRP.
Full disclosure: I would’ve entered that store anyway. Just that I had an additional reason to visit them this time around.
So I enter the store and a young dude greets me with a traditional ‘Merhaba’. I ask him how does it work and in the next 5 minutes, I am back outside to splurge yet again!
How Did It Work and the Cost?
Well, if you are a crypto native, it was a cakewalk. All I had to do is send some USDT to him in his ‘Binance’ wallet and he gave me Turkish Lira for that.
I sent USDT over Tron network which costed me about $1 to send that money. On the top of it, they charged me a 3% to complete the transaction. As a comparison with fiat, I was charged somewhere to the tune 0.5% when I got my INR converted to EUR in India.
On the other hand, when I tried to get INR back for EUR upon my arrival, the exchange at the airport was charging me 6% for it.
So, I’d say it was an expensive affair but saved my ass on a rather important occasion. Moreover, I only had to withdraw like $150 ($100 is the minimum transaction) worth of Lira. So 3% didn’t pinch much.
I Absolutely Forgot About This:
I cannot downplay the role of luck in making this happen for me. Finding an exchange in the middle of nowhere was just a start. I did not have any USDT in my wallet. So I had to do a P2P transaction to load it. While everything went smoothly, there’s potentially one area where you could get stuck!
OTP. Yup. Since your local carrier won’t work in Turkey, how are you supposed to get an OTP to authenticate withdrawal? Well, that’s where my luck came into picture. My SIM was as good as trash when it came to data/calls. However, for some reason it worked just fine for incoming messages. So thank you Airtel for solving a real problem there.
I am telling this because I don’t want you degens to get stuck if you plan to take this route!
How all Other Alternatives Failed Me?
Well, I didn’t have many to begin with. The fact that I did not carry a Forex card simply ruled out that option for me. If you are wondering why, that’s because forex card did not support Lira. So carrying cash was much cheaper.
Next up was my local bank card. I checked with them and they say they had no idea how much they would charge (exchange rates, fees, conversion charges) if I swipe my card at a POS overseas. Some Google searches show that it would be >4% but it is still expensive than crypto exchange.
And finally a bank transfer could never work. Too much grey area in terms of costs and authorisations. I could not just send money to an overseas account like that. Turns out that I had to get it enabled while I was back in my home country. And even enabling it has costs associated with it.
Which again makes me believe that we do need a truly global payment system for retail users. Thank you crypto, for being one!
As I continued my journey, I realised that there are multiple such exchanges in the country. Some of them even offering lower prices (lowest I could find was @2%). This could probably become a legit business because Turkish Lira has been suffering for a while now. It has reduced to a fifth of its value in the past 6 odd months.
What happens when there’s a human made economic crisis? BTC rescues us! Hope to see Turkey joining the El Salvador bandwagon soon.
Just like that, a trip that was meant to take me away from this world (temporarily) brought me even closer. I didn’t miss a beat regarding the latest crypto happenings and I am glad that I didn’t.
What’s your crypto life saving story?
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Until next time..
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