I'm trying to send money overseas to a friend in need who is overly concerned about their privacy and who had their wallet with ID stolen. The friend is a resident of the EU.

What options exist in sending money to someone with no official proof of their identity?

I'm aware that Western Union used to have the option to specify a secret question instead of the recipient's first and last name. That would have been the ideal option, but it seems to have been removed at some point? Perhaps there are other similar services providing such option? Or the ID is not really needed anyway?

At the risk of making the question less specific, I want to add that the friend also has a cell phone and a limited debit card that can accept funds, but has no IBAN associated with it, so services like Xoom do not seem to be an option.

  • "What options exist in sending money to someone with no official proof of their identity?" In broad general terms I would simply forget about it. Those days are gone. You can't do it. The extremely simple solution if this was a real situation, is that you would send money to a friend relative or colleague of that person, and obviously that person would pass the money to the person who lost their wallet.
    – Fattie
    May 15, 2016 at 13:01

2 Answers 2


Crazy idea but... on the offchance your friend is near one of Europe's few bitcoin ATM's ... buy some bitcoin, transfer them to your friend, and they can presumably cash them in at the ATM. I've no idea how much bid-offer spreads will eat into the transfer or whether you can tolerate bitcoin volatility though.

Unless there are money laundering regulations that mean anyone wanting to use one of these ATM's has to agree some ID checks that your friend can't satisfy (I don't actually know much about bitcoin at all).

If not a bitcoin ATM, maybe there are other ways your friend can convert bitcoin value to something more useful (bitcoin to mobile-phone top-ups seem to be possible, for example).

  • Thanks! I had no clue those existed, and there does seem to be a bitcoin ATM somewhat nearby. According to the sources, some ATMs may require very rigid ID checks such as fingerprint scans, but we'll try looking into whether it would work out or not. I think it should definitely be a viable option for someone who ended up in the same predicament as we did.
    – fullerene
    May 14, 2016 at 22:10

Have them contact their embassy for help. They may be able to facilitate the transaction.

This answer assumes that this isn't a scam, and that the 'friend' is really in trouble.

  • 1
    It's simply "not possible at all nowadays". It's that simple. If the situation is real, the procedure is obvious and is done all the time: send the money to a friend, colleague, neighbor of the person who lost the wallet; that friend can pass them the money.
    – Fattie
    May 15, 2016 at 13:03
  • @joeblow if on holiday, 'via the hotel' would also be worth investigating. May 16, 2016 at 15:55
  • 3
    If anyone cares, the problem was solved for us as we found a WU-certified place that accepted a printed ticket with the name (essentially, a piece of paper) as a proof of identity.
    – fullerene
    May 17, 2016 at 5:12
  • It's simply "not possible at all nowadays". every time some issue arises, there is a person saying bs about "not possible". but fortunately world is ruled by optimists!
    – Suncatcher
    Jun 1, 2022 at 12:58

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