Find out what international merchant services are, what they allow you to do, and what you should know when choosing the best one for your business.
According to recent statistics, eCommerce grew 32% in just one year.
- An explosion in activity for many businesses
- The reinvention of entire business models for many companies
- Completely redrawing the boundaries of their customer/client base locations
Many businesses are no longer limited to only local markets thanks to what the internet makes possible. These businesses can now offer their goods and services across international borders.
But how can payments be safely and securely accepted from one country’s currency to a completely different one?
That’s where International merchant services come in.
Find out what international merchant accounts are, how they work, and what you need to know to benefit from using them.
What an international merchant account is
International merchant accounts let businesses process and accept online payments using currencies from their international customers or clients around the world.
That means a business in the United States can offer their design services to a company in India. Thanks to the international merchant account of the American business, they can easily accept their client’s Indian Rupees. They may either opt to convert the Rupees to US dollars or route it to a specific bank account that’s set up for certain currencies, depending on the payment gateway.
These international merchant services can allow businesses to accept a wide range of payment forms. These can include credit cards, bank transfers, digital wallets, and now even cryptocurrencies.
How is it possible to safely accept a number of payment methods across international borders? We’ll cover that next.
How international merchant accounts work
We’ll start with what you’re likely to notice the most as a merchant: the payment gateway. This online portion of the process transmits the payment data securely between the customer, the merchant, and the payment processor (more on these below).
Gateways also quickly communicate whether the transaction has been accepted or if there was a problem with the payment. Having speedy payment confirmation is especially important for companies doing businesses internationally, since there won’t be any way to fix payment issues in person with such a great distance between the two parties.
As mentioned earlier, the payment processor receives payment information from the payment gateway. A processor is necessary for any credit card transaction, as they transmit information between the merchant, the cardholder’s bank, and the merchant bank.
Thanks to this information being safely and securely transmitted by the processor, a business effortlessly receives the client’s money into their merchant account without any thought or action required.
Who might need international merchant services
Online business transactions are only expected to increase in the future, according to the International Trade Administration.
It’s true that some businesses will simply never sell their goods or services across international borders. Either there are government restrictions such as trade embargos, or it’s just simply not financially feasible to transport their product.
However, many B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-customer) businesses have used the internet and eCommerce platforms to take their business to a new level. B2B businesses in need of international merchant services include:
- Software and app developers
- Freelance web designers
- Coaches and consultants
- Virtual assistants
Growing B2C businesses who benefit from international merchant services include:
- eCommerce stores
- Virtual thrift shops
- Online trainers
- Travel planners
- Online therapists
What the best international merchant services include
Even though accepting payments across borders can help grow a business, there are still potential complications or issues that can come with doing so. Make sure that your international payment account includes these key components to avoid problems.
What good is there in doing business internationally if you can’t accept a payment or if a customer can’t checkout successfully? That’s why it’s important to choose an international merchant service that gives checkout support, strong customer service, and a user-friendly interface.
The more local currencies you can accept, the more potential customers or clients you can do business with. So instead of just accepting a few major currencies, look for services that allow you to accept a wide variety of currencies to increase business in foreign markets.
Many international payment gateways will allow you to display the cost of your product or service in their local currency via a shopping cart that automatically converts the cost for the customer.
Multiple payment types
There is no central body that develops payment types across international borders. Instead, some countries have one popular form of payment, while another has a totally different form that people prefer.
That’s why it’s important to be able to accept more than just a few popular credit cards. Instead, research what’s common in the markets you hope to expand into or are currently servicing.
These different forms of payment can include digital wallets such as ApplePay or PayPal for North America and Europe, Boleto or Elo in Latin America, and AliPay or WeChat for Asian countries.
Foreign tax abilities
Unlike most countries, the United States is one of the few countries that don’t have a value-added tax, or VAT. However, these are common in many countries, especially European ones.
Along with VAT, other taxes or fees may be imposed on the merchant that countries charge in order to do online business within their borders.
Gateways with international tax or fees that are automatically added can take a huge load off when it comes to making sure you’re legally doing business across borders. These features can free you from the time and research needed to manually calculate these fees for each transaction.
Enhanced security standards are especially important when doing business across borders. Why? The more conversions, translations, and connections made, the more opportunities there are for customer info to be accessed by hackers or other criminal entities.
Make sure security is up to date by confirming they meet PCI DSS. These are international security standards designed to protect both the merchant and the customer. To learn more about what these standards are and how to meet them, see our article on what is PCI compliance.
International merchant services have let businesses tap into new markets and accept payments from currencies around the globe. However, it’s important to choose the international merchant services that offer the most important tools and features in order to accept international payments without a problem. These include international gateways that accept multiple currencies and payment forms, are PCI compliant, and automatically account for taxes and fees.
Progressive Payment Solutions is focused on providing everything you need to grow your business. If you want answers to other questions you likely have about accepting payments, feel free to check out our payment blog. If you’re ready to start accepting payments for the lowest fees with the best customer service, contact us today.