Cash and carry: all you need to know about travel money

Credit and debit cards have modern flair, but cold, hard cash is still an international traveler’s best friend.

But how do you even get foreign currency these days? How much cash should you take? And whatever happened to travelers checks? We talked with currency expert Bruce Beattie, owner of Foreign Currency Exchange in Birmingham, who keeps close watch on travel money issues around the world.

QUESTION: Why would an international traveler need cash at all? Isn’t cash old-fashioned?

ANSWER: “Cash is still critical for emergencies and for smaller purchases where you can’t use a debit or credit card,” he says. “Have some foreign currency so if you arrive at an airport and can’t find an ATM, you have enough money for a taxi, train or a bottle of water at least.”

Q: But can’t I just use my debit or credit card abroad? I have one with no foreign transaction fees.

A: U.S. credit cards still do not work everywhere in the world or work in strange ways, he says. For instance, “Germany is still largely a cash country even though it is the biggest euro zone,” he says. “You can’t charge a cup of coffee there. They want cash for anything under $30, basically.”

Sometimes, even a no-fee credit card will register overseas as a cash advance, incurring fees. Sometimes, your credit card simply won’t work, even if it has chip and pin technology. Always take backup cards. And, of course, cash.

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FX CEO: The currency market is open to abuse and regulators aren’t listening

Global regulators are “hearing but not listening” to the currency market’s calls about how to put a stop to foreign exchange manipulation, according to the CEO of a currency trading platform.

David Mercer, CEO of LMAX Exchange, which trades $10 billion (£7.5 billion) in currency daily after only launching 5 years’ ago, told Business Insider that he met with US and UK regulators on plans to improve market transparency.

However, he says that the market has become disillusioned with regulatory initiatives over the last two years.

“We’ve engaged with the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, the Bank of International Settlements (known as the central banks’ central bank), the Bank of England about the Fair and Effective Markets Review (FEMR), and the New York Fed, and they definitely hear but they don’t listen. It’s disappointing,” said Mercer.

“The biggest [area] for abuse in the FX market is ‘last look’ and the lack of transparency of who is trading with whom since most of of FX is done trading over-the-counter (OTC). The regulators are just papering over the cracks of a broken mechanism that is open to abuse.”

“Last look” gives liquidity providers the option to reject a trader’s order, even if it matches up with the trader’s quoted price. If the order is rejected, the price for the order can “slip,” putting the trader at a disadvantage.

 

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Currency exchange 101: What to know before you go

After the U.K. recently voted to leave the European Union, Brexit spurred many Americans into suddenly considering the value of the U.S. dollar. Too often, however, even experienced travelers don’t always contemplate all currency conversion options, or when they do it’s at the last minute.

Like many other travel decisions, choosing how to spend money overseas involves a bit of research and an examination of personal choices. The key is making such decisions in advance.

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Japanese Banks Plan Blockchain Currency Exchange

A group of Japanese financial institutions is looking to create a blockchain-based platform they could leverage to cut costs on domestic and foreign exchange services.

Announced today, initial members include the Bank of Yokohama and SBI Sumishin Net Bank. Those involved in the effort will work with distributed ledger tech startup Ripple to develop the platform.

SBI Holdings, which owns SBI Sumishin Net Bank and has invested in startups working with the technology in the past, said in a statement that as many as 15 banks are expected to take part in the initiative when it formally launches in October.

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In the Bitcoin Era, Ransomware Attacks Surge

One evening in April, Dave Winston stood in a convenience store in suburban Charlotte, N.C., uneasily shoving $20 bills into a slim automated-teller machine unlike any he had ever seen. He was buying bitcoin, a digital currency unknown to him a few hours earlier, before hackers took over his computer.

Mr. Winston, crew chief with the Circle Sport-Leavine Family Nascar race team, is among a growing number of victims of a pernicious type of malicious software called ransomware, which has earned millions of dollars for cybercriminals by encrypting computer files and holding them hostage.

Ransomware dates to the late 1980s, but attacks spiked this year amid the growing use of bitcoin and improved encryption software. Malicious code turned Mr. Winston’s Excel spreadsheets and Word documents into unreadable gobbledygook, and hackers told him to pay $500 in bitcoin to unscramble them.

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The Great Digital-Currency Debate: ‘New’ Ethereum Vs. Ethereum ‘Classic’

The new digital currency Ethereum is only about three years old, but after a controversial software upgrade, it already has split in two.

After the so-called “forking” of the cryptocurrency was carried out July 20 to undo a hack in June that led to the theft of $60 million worth of Ethereum,  some developers of the currency fought back by essentially ignoring the fork, not updating their software and maintaining the older version of the currency,

The new name of the older version: Ethereum Classic. The somewhat confounding result is that two exact versions of the same cryptocurrency exist.

A high-profile theft in June involving Ethereum, a bitcoin-like digital platform, led to the controversial decision to rewrite the software in such a way that the theft didn’t exist.

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Oracle Faces Investor Backlash over Cloud Revenue Reporting

Earlier in the series, we discussed the lawsuit filed against Oracle (ORCL) by its former employee Svetlana Blackburn. This news weighed heavily on Oracle. As a result, its stock fell more than 4% after the lawsuit. This share price fall triggered angst among Oracle’s investors and shareholders.

On June 6, 2016, Grover Klarfeld, an investor in Oracle, filed a complaint against the company. Klarfeld, on behalf of Oracle shareholders, filed a complaint claiming that the company’s executives have put investors’ investments in the company at risk through their actions. Klarfeld’s complaint, which is directed towards Oracle management, says, “The defendants made materially false and misleading statements regarding the company’s business, operational and compliance policies.”

Oracle is reeling under the pressure of reporting top-line growth. However, despite no revenue growth in fiscal 3Q16, its cloud revenues grew 44% on a constant currency basis to $735 million. This provided relief to Oracle’s stock, which rose 4% after fiscal 3Q16 results after seeing a ~15% fall in 2015 and early 2016. To cater to investors, Oracle announced the addition of $10 billion to its current stock buyback plan in fiscal 3Q16.

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Carney Joins Yellen Going Crypto as Technology Moves Up Agenda

 

Confined by a self-imposed ban on talking about Brexit, the Bank of England governor will use his high-profile annual address to London’s financial community on Thursday to talk about the technology behind crypto-currencies. Coming two weeks after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen addressed the topic, his choice underscores how central bankers are embracing an innovation that could turn finance on its head.

Carney’s thoughts on digital currencies will be the BOE’s highest profile yet on the topic, and his last public comments before the U.K.’s referendum on EU membership next week. He told lawmakers last month the speech will focus on what fintech developments mean for the structure of the financial system and what officials are “doing to enable that.” The governor has previously shown a willingness to stray beyond the realm of regular central banking, and he’s now moving into an area that has ramifications for payments, cyber security and the reach of monetary policy.

“The central bank adoption of a crypto version of a fiat currency would be a game changer,” says Daniel Marovitz, the president of Earthport Plc, a London-based firm that’s building an alternative cross-border payments network for Bank of America Corp., the World Bank, and other global institutions. “The move would show the technology can work in the real world and not just the laboratory.”

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MP pushes for tighter regulations for mobile money operations

A member of Parliament’s Finance Committee, Dr. Mark Osei Assibey-Yeboah, is pushing for tighter regulations for mobile money transactions in the country.

Dr. Assibey-Yeboah, an economist, and Member of Parliament for the New Juaben South Constituency has asked Parliament to compel the Minister of Finance to bring before the House regulations governing such transactions for amendment.

Explaining the rationale for his action on Eyewitness News, Dr. Assibey-Yeboah noted that he was forced to take such a move in the interest of the country since there is no Legislative Instrument backing such transactions.

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