Last editedFeb 20232 min read
If you want to grow your business overseas, you’ll need to think about international payment processing. While ecommerce platforms give small businesses wider reach than ever before, this comes with the logistical issues of global shipping, currency exchange fees, and payment security. Here’s how to authorize international payments using today’s secure payment gateways.
How to accept international payments
International payment gateways offer the fastest way to accept card payments from customers anywhere in the world. Yet alongside card payments, many also allow you to accept alternative methods and bank transfers.
The first step when looking at how to accept international payments is therefore to compare the various gateways out there. These validate customer payment details with the card issuer, securely transmitting data between customer, merchant, and bank. When it comes to international payment processing, you’ll need an all-in-one service that accepts payment in multiple currencies. It’s also helpful to choose one with a multilingual interface.
How long does an international payment take?
The answer to this question can vary widely, depending on the payment method chosen as well as the transaction’s start and end points. Generally, most international payments are settled within one to five working days. Traditional methods like wire transfers tend to take longer, while electronic bank-to-bank payments can be settled in shorter time frames.
What are some international payment methods?
There are multiple international payment gateways designed to authorize card payments. However, international payment methods also include things like wire transfer services and others. Here are a few of the most popular options.
1. Wire transfer
International wire transfer services are best for service-based businesses. They won’t integrate with your online store and are inadequate for high-volume transactions. With this type of service, the customer must initiate the transfer through a service like Western Union or their own bank. There are strict cut-off times each day, after which the transfer won’t go through until the following business day. This means that payment can easily be delayed, and it does come at a higher per-transaction cost than other methods.
While there’s a multitude of services designed to authorize international payments, PayPal is probably the best-known worldwide gateway. It supports transfers between hundreds of participating countries, facilitating card payments and bank transfers. If your customers have asked about making international payments with a debit card, this might be a good option. The downside is that PayPal charges higher exchange rates than competitors, and businesses can run into trouble with frozen accounts. This can lead to serious issues with cash flow until the matter is resolved.
The newer generation of international payment services includes high-tech apps like Wise, which let you open virtual bank accounts in multiple currencies. That means you can receive international payments without needing to set up a local bank account in every country, cutting down the red tape. It supports over 55 currencies and is available in over 70 countries.
While traditional gateways are great for collecting card payments, GoCardless lets you collect international recurring payments directly from overseas customer bank accounts. It works together with Wise for real-time currency conversion to get the best rates, which means your customer pays in their own local currency and the transaction is settled in USD. Pricing is transparent, with flat per-transaction fees and zero hidden charges.
How to choose the best international payment gateway
Naturally, the best international payment processing service will depend on your customers’ location and preferences. Wire transfers might be best for long-term clients who make large invoice payments, while ecommerce businesses will prefer an all-in-one international payment gateway.
Comparing fees is more important than ever when you’re looking at how to authorize international payments. In addition to per-transaction fees, you’ll also need to think about conversion fees, transfer fees, and other added rates. These can add up quickly to take a bite out of your profits. For many businesses, the best option will be to combine two or more of the payment platforms mentioned above. This covers all bases for worldwide customer reach.
We can help
GoCardless is a global payments solution that helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of financial admin your team needs to deal with. Find out how GoCardless can help you with one-off or recurring payments.