International commerce is almost as old as civilization itself. For millennia, businesses have had to deal with exchange rates and delivery when selling goods and services across borders. For years, letters of credit were one of the most effective ways to send and receive payments abroad.
The rise of electronic commerce (e-Commerce) took international business to a whole new level.
Not only did it remove many of the physical barriers that restricted older forms of trade, but it also lowered the barriers to entry for everyone — merchants and consumers alike.
In the words of HSBC's Mark Luppi, “Small businesses have the opportunity to capture global markets that were limited to large corporations several years ago.”
We’re talking about a global market that generates more than $1.2 trillion a year in online sales.
However, as an e-merchant, how do you securely process payments from anonymous buyers on the other side of the world?
Let's take a look.
Securely Accepting Payments from Abroad
By far, the most effective strategy is to offer credit card payment options. To get set up, you need a merchant account. For online sales, you also need either a secure payment gateway or hosted payment pages.
In order to boost the security of your payment environment, consider using a payment processor that provides advanced security methods like:
If selling to the B2C crowd, Level 1 credit card merchant processing should be sufficient. Though if most of your customers are other businesses and governments, you’ll want to use Levels 2 and 3 processing instead.
Yet if you only rely on credit cards, you might be missing out on a huge chunk of the global retail market. Not everyone in the developed world uses plastic; and fewer than 10 percent of consumers in emerging economies have access to credit cards.
To have truly international reach, you'll need to explore additional payment options, including:
1. Electronic Payment Solutions
Payment solutions allow you to accept money from users who might not have or use credit cards. Although services like PayPal have slightly higher fees than traditional plastic, they work in most major markets
2. Wire Transfers
Depending on the size of each transaction, interbank wire transfers can often be cheaper than credit cards or e-Payments. Instead of charging percentage fees, each transfer usually comes with a set charge ranging from $15 to $30.
This approach is ideal for goods and services that cost $1,000 and up, and it appeals most to big-ticket consumers and B2B customers.
There’s a bit more setup involved when doing wire transfers — making this option less conducive for “impulse” purchases. However, if your goal is to tap into new markets and avoid fees as much as possible, wire transfers might be your best bet.
Want More Ways to Safely Sell Abroad?
If your customers are all over the globe, you might be better off with a blended payment system that incorporates all of the above:
- Credit cards for the masses.
- Wire transfers for big spenders.
- E-payments for everyone else.
Contact our customer support team today for a free consultation.