The transfer of virtual currencies into fiat continues to be quite challenging with the fees lurking behind the corner

Kris Spartanska
November 2, 2023
min read

In July, Visa terminated its relationship with Binance, and about a month ago Mastercard, with a pilot project in South America, took the same course of action. These events deprived the users of the world's largest crypto exchange, of the ability to use its cards. There was an immediate limitation and users couldn't use the cards to pay online or withdraw fiat, having previously revalued their crypto assets. These measures of the two largest payment operators are an example of breaking the link between centralised and decentralised finance. These are also a result of the increased regulatory pressure against Binance, especially in the US. However, the payment card service was reinstated on 18 September and will be suspended again on 20 December.

Binance's service is top-rated in Bulgaria because, in addition to liquidity and the ability to trade cryptocurrencies, it allows certain currencies, including stablecoins, to be transferred to a payment card issued in partnership with Visa, which can then be used as a regular debit card. In this case, every transaction made with the card was re-valued in real time, and it was extremely convenient for anyone using the exchange to access a portion of their funds. The lack of a payment card in the weeks when the service was suspended forced its users to find a replacement, transfer their assets to other platforms or use options such as P2P transfers, crypto ATMs and transferring assets to other wallets. The service will be suspended again on 20 December 2023. So far, the impact on Binance's business is unclear whereas most experts say that it has not and will not suffer. Binance remains the largest exchange, offering very high liquidity and good spreads and its services for staking, fundraising, farming and others will remain.

One of the most important questions was raised again - how to easily spend part of your crypto assets for everyday needs. The idea of centralised exchanges and companies is to make this easy and fast with their cards. A review and test by Capital showed that the complicated way is longer and at the same time – expensive, for converting Ether into the equivalent of 1000 BGN and then to withdraw it from an ATM, the fees were around 70 BGN. But more about that is described below. The options for converting crypto into cash remain mainly cards, issued by a platform that supports them with Visa and Mastercard, transfer from a decentralised exchange to a centralised platform, P2P. SEPA transfers in euros are also an option. These were also temporarily suspended on Binance, but an announcement on 19 October clarifies that they will be reintroduced and that new partners have been found.

Analysis of Crypto Debit/Credit Cards: Fees and Rewards

Payment cards

Still, Binance is not the only option offering payment cards (see table below). However, for the convenience of using a crypto debit or credit card from an exchange, one sacrifices his/her security because the person shall trust the specific exchange and grant it the rights to its assets. To deal with such issues, especially when dealing with larger amounts, the best practice is to keep your crypto assets in a hardware wallet and to transfer amounts sporadically to your favourite exchange so that they can be used without putting your other crypto assets at risk.

Comparison of fees and terms on deposits and withdrawals in different crypto exchanges

From DeFi to the real world

If you hold your cryptocurrencies on a decentralised exchange, the path to converting them into fiat money and paying with them is longer and even more expensive. For the purposes of this article, we transferred Ether to Revolut. The reason this fintech platform was chosen is that it recently introduced the option to deposit crypto from your own wallet, and then revalue and spend the fiat money. The problem is that until now, such deposits have only been accepted in Bitcoin. So, the Ether in question was transferred from one self-custody wallet - in the Metamask merger - to another - now for Bitcoin - and then sent to Revolut. From there, the assets can be sold for fiat money to pay for things, or they can be withdrawn. From a regular ATM, up to BGN 400 can be withdrawn for free. However, Revolut's crypto transaction fees are higher than those of the largest crypto exchange, Binance. Despite this, the above way of converting crypto may be a better option than the high-fee crypto ATMs, mainly because their spreads are also significantly different from those offered by the exchanges. For around BGN 1000 the fees and spreads are around 7%, or BGN 70.


P2P (peer-to-peer) is also a way to get a "bundle" of money for your crypto to spend later, but as with anything, there are many risks. Fraud, unprofitable transactions and the likelihood of becoming part of a money laundering operation are just some of the potential opportunities. P2P is the buying/selling of crypto, without or with intermediaries (in the form of exchanges or applications). P2P exchanges (peer-to-peer exchanges) are an interesting and decentralised alternative way to trade cryptocurrencies. They allow users to connect and trade directly with each other on an established infrastructure, without intermediaries such as centralised exchanges or banks. The most famous example of a P2P exchange was that of LocalBitcoins, which suspended its operations due to the "long crypto winter".

How do P2P exchanges work? It all starts with a user wanting to buy or sell cryptocurrency. That user creates an offer on the exchange, setting the price and terms of the transaction. Another user can then see this offer and accept it if the terms are favourable. Once the transaction is accepted, the exchange provides security by storing the cryptocurrency until payment is made in fiat currency or vice versa. This type of exchange has several advantages. First, they offer great flexibility and freedom in trading, allowing users to create their own offers and choose who they want to trade with. Second, P2P exchanges can be more anonymous, as they do not require the detailed personal information required by centralised exchanges. The risks we have outlined above.

Crypto ATMs 

Crypto ATMs remain an option not to be overlooked. Despite their fees and differences in spreads between the major exchanges, they offer the opportunity to sell your coins and use the cash to pay for goods and services. All you need to do is find a crypto ATM, confirm that it has sufficient funds and follow the instructions to sell.

The average fees in Bulgaria include the cost of a blockchain transaction, the spread difference and the commission for using the service, equivalent to about 5-6% of the total amount, while globally the total fees can reach between 5-15%, which is significantly higher compared to exchanges. It should also be noted that once you have "inserted" notes into the crypto ATM, you do not have the option to opt out and you must carry out the order.

Before you start a transaction, you will need a wallet to which your funds will be sent. If you don't have one, you can create one with Xverse, Hiro, Trust,, Exodus or the self-custody wallets on or Coinbase, learn more about hardware wallets such as Ledger and Trezor, or if you're not planning to buy/sell bitcoin but rather Ethereum (*if there is an option), use a wallet such as Metamask.

Make sure you only display QR codes on your own wallets, where only you have access to the keys, or you'll be sending crypto to someone else if that's not your intention.

Crypto ATMs are designed to be an intuitive experience for anyone who's used a traditional ATM before, so all you need to do is follow the on-screen instructions. Bitcoin transactions typically take between 10 and 30 minutes to complete, with network congestion being a factor in the speed of transactions; Ethereum transactions (like the Capital test) are significantly faster.

Machines vary slightly by country and location, and some may require know-your-customer (KYC) steps before allowing a purchase. The maximum purchase per wallet per day in Bulgaria is approximately BGN 10,000. The maximum 'withdrawal' from crypto ATMs that allow it also depends on the funds available in the machine, which can often be monitored online.

*Original source in Bulgarian : Capital news

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