How to accept international payments and transactions?
Despite the pandemic turning the world on its head, 2020 just saw the highest number of new international companies created in a decade. With much of that business taking place online, it’s more essential than ever that there are systems in place to accept and handle international payments in a variety of ways.
But you know how it goes: come up with a great business idea, execute it, become successful, and then expand overseas. Simple, right? But is your company ready to accept international payments, and how can you go about doing it? Discover how to accept international payments and transactions, including the best international payment gateways and systems on the market.
What is an international or global payment system?
An international payments system is a network that lets global businesses and marketplaces make and accept payments in multiple ways and in various currencies. A global payment system is the best bet for merchants needing a cheap way of processing business transactions without paying to develop their own payment processor.
Many payment systems operate as SaaS (Software as a Service) networks, meaning that merchants and companies essentially “borrow” the technology that powers their business functions, such as how to accept payment transactions.
As a one-stop payment platform and solution, Fondy understands the need for businesses from the UK to the US to be flexible and accept various payment methods in a variety of currencies. Want to know more about us? Great! Check out our About Fondy page and discover what inspires us and how that can benefit your business, no matter the size.
How to accept international payments
The bottom line of all business is to make sales. Whether you run a flower stand or an ice cream van, it’s all about selling. But modern, international online businesses need to make sales and offer multiple methods for collecting payments from overseas customers. But how do you accept international transactions in the best way?
Below are some of the most popular methods, including their pros and cons and how to integrate them:
Payment Service Providers (PSPs)
Payment Service Providers are third-party platforms that assist companies in accepting online payment methods, such as bank transfers, credit and debit cards, mobile wallets, and more.
PSPs such as Opayo, PayPal, Stripe, and Amazon Payments all allow you to accept international payments online and provide you with a secure global payment gateway.
A PSP payment system takes care of all the necessary data processing, including fund transfers, refunds, and reversal transactions.
Payment gateways are software that helps merchants accept eCommerce, in-app, and point-of-sale (POS) payments for various payment methods. Other well-known payment gateways include PayPal, Stripe, Payoneer, Amazon Payments, and Shopify Payments.
There are a number of ways you can create your own secure online payment gateway. You can hire an outside developer or use your in-house team. Although a custom-built payment gateway is ideal, the costs involved in employing a developer on a full or part-time basis can be astronomical.
Alternatively, you can use a payment gateway. A payment gateway is a third-party software like Fondy. With Fondy, benefit from processed international payments in 150 currencies across more than 200 countries. Even better, you have a choice of over 300 international payment methods.
International credit card payments
Advances in technology often make card payments seem like something from the Stone Age. That said, using debit and credit cards remains the most popular way in which to pay for goods and services online across the globe.
And until facilities like mobile wallets become the dominant payment method, you can rest assured that you can always accept payments from the likes of Visa, Mastercard, and American Express through established payment providers such as PayPal or Stripe.
To accept credit card payments, you’ll need to complete at least three steps: finding a card processing company, opening a merchant account, and setting up a payment terminal.
- International processing providers
Visa, Mastercard, Discover, Diners Club, and American Express are the major players in the global card processing fields. While they might be the most popular, they are by no means the only options. What separates them are the types of transactions they perform, the volume they can handle, and the fees they charge for said volume. If you have a physical store, check out their payment terminals and see how they’ll integrate with your current point of sale (POS) system.
- Payment terminals
Card readers or payment terminals range from those that allow payments via a swipe, chip, and pin or near-field communication (contactless tap). Most modern payment terminals should be able to do all three. For online payments, you’ll need an online payments portal that can accept card payments. If you’ve built your own domain, you’ll need your card processing provider or website developer to add international credit card processing capabilities to your website.
- Merchant accounts
One advantage of using a well-known global credit card processor is creating a merchant services account with them. A merchant account is a separate business account that lets your company accept credit card payments in transactions that can’t be completed directly. In some cases, businesses can’t accept payments from some card networks. That’s where merchant accounts came in handy. Instead of receiving the funds in a traditional business account, the money is sent to a merchant account, where it’s then transferred to a business account afterward.
Although wire transfers are popular ways to move money, they’re more suited to consumer transfers, i.e., how to transfer funds from one person to another. While some businesses accept wire transfers, they’re not efficient payment methods in terms of speed and security. It’s also worth considering all of the costs involved with wire transfers. These include receiving, conversion, and global processing fees.
Payment links are secure URLs or QR codes that direct your customers to your company’s payment pages. As they’re shareable links, they can be forwarded, copied, or pasted via emails, texts, chats, or messenger apps. You can even accept them and embed them directly into quotes and invoices, which makes for smoother checkout transactions.
By accepting cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, your company can potentially attract a wider range of customers. All you’ll need is a Bitcoin wallet that lets you store the cryptocurrency or convert it into another currency. Accepting Bitcoin payments means that costs are usually lower as you’re sidestepping banks and all their associated transaction fees. But like any currency, Bitcoin’s international value is susceptible to fluctuations in value.
A remittance “bank”
A growing number of remittance providers and “non-bank” banks allow businesses to store money the same way traditional banks do. For example, in the UK, top of the list are companies like Wise, Revolut, and Monzo. Although not legally classed as banks, their borderless accounts have several similar traits in common with international banking institutions.
Even better, you can have multiple currency pots. In essence, that means multiple bank accounts in different currencies, all with the same provider. It’s a new way of doing business banking but without the high rates, hidden charges, and monthly fees. More importantly, your business can receive payments in local currencies, which means better international exchange rates, faster transactions, and more convenience.
A remittance company
International remittance companies are best known for sending money to family and loved ones overseas. But remittance companies are also a boon for sending and receiving global business payments.
Most remittance companies are a better way of receiving business payments. That’s because remittance providers tend to offer businesses better exchange rates, services, features, and value when it comes to international money transfers and foreign exchange. What’s more, traditional banks cannot compete with remittance providers in terms of speed and security.
Some of the best international remittance companies for business include:
How to use alternative methods for receiving international payments
If you can’t use any of the options above, all is not lost. That’s because some business owners can still rely on methods such as international letters of credit, cheques (check: US), and international money orders to get paid from overseas.
A letter of credit is an official document that is issued by one bank to another. They’re usually sent by one bank to one based overseas. The letter of credit guarantees a person will make a payment for a certain amount by a certain date.
Personal cheques may be old-fashioned, but they’re still an effective way to receive payments from overseas. The only downside to receiving a cheque, however, is how many fees may be attached for cashing a business cheque. Fortunately, international personal cheques can be submitted digitally in which case.
An international money order is a document that looks similar to a cheque. Money orders are a prepaid payment option, so your customers will need to pay upfront for a money order using cash or a credit card.
How to choose the right payment option for your business
So what’s the best way to accept international payments from your customers? That depends on a number of factors, including their international location and currency. You’ll also need to consider:
- Customers. When weighing different payment options, think about your international customer base and the nature of your business. For example, If you’re in real estate, wire transfers may be due as your clients will only tend to make occasional, large international payments. However, If you’re an international eCommerce company selling electric toothbrushes, then a payment gateway that you can integrate within your existing website makes more sense.
- Costs. Whether they’re dressed up as transfer fees, international conversion costs, or processing charges, the one thing they have in common is how much they can quickly add up. That means you’ll need to budget for them in addition to your production costs, packaging, and shipping expense transactions.
- Speed. If you rely on a steady cash flow, then processing speed will be an important factor. When you receive payments, you’ll want the funds available for access in your account quickly. With some receiving methods, you might have to wait for days to receive international funds, whereas, with others, access will be instant.