As I was traveling to China again I made sure that I’m not without cash this time.. I set up a bitcoin based US debit card and a Hong Kong based RMB debit card and I had my US bank card.
Needless to say, all these cards were fully KYC/AML compliant in their jurisdictions and I had a chance to compare the time and cost of each. The fastest, cheapest and most secure was my bitcoin debit card. I only transferred money to it from my Coinbase (compliant) bitcoin wallet before withdrawal and had no issues. I controlled fraud as noone had access to any of my funds before and after withdrawal.
The RMB debit card was the most time consuming as you have to have in person verification for each deposit in HK prior to my Mainland entry despite the initial full in person KYC review. Cost would have been the highest except for the incompetency of my US Bank below. I had full control of my funds afterwards as the debit card app can stop unauthorized withdrawals with a click.
My big US Bank had the most complex process because despite having both PIN code and 2-factor authentication on my account and having logged my trip plan in advance, account security still flagged withdrawals for fraud alert which took over $25 in mobile roaming charges to clear up.
My summary of getting cash on this trip is below… Blockchain can still win many times over even in a fully regulated and compliant setup.