Think that taking card payments in multiple currencies is complex, and expensive to set up? It isn’t. If you buy OR sell overseas, giving international customers the option to pay for goods, and you the option to pay suppliers, in say Euros or US$ WILL reduce your exposure to currency fluctuations.
If you have an online retail business, it is quite likely that at some point you may have had to package something up and send it overseas. You may even have a whole fulfilment depot geared up for it.
But it may not have occurred to you that offering your overseas customers the ability to select the currency that they wish to pay in offers you and them significant benefits. For the customer, the benefit lies in the fact that they will know exactly what they are paying in their own currency, and you as a merchant will not be subject to currency fluctuations. Something that is currently being acutely felt by many UK retailers with the recent fall in the value of the £ Sterling.
Of course you would have to set up a bank account for each of the currencies that you wish to accept currency in, but that can easily be done in the UK. You would also need to have ways at your disposal of using that currency in countries where it is usually accepted, in order to avoid having to exchange it at some point. So as long as you have overseas suppliers who you wish to pay in their local currency, then the situation is completely win:win.
Obviously if we are talking a few parcels a month, the effort and expense that you would have to go to to set up the facility would probably not be worth your while. But in my opinion it’s a simple decision of whether you want or need to operate internationally, or not. If global markets present an opportunity for you, then you should give it due consideration.
So what does it entail? Well firstly, you would need to apply for a multi-currency merchant account. Several are available but I am aware of a particularly good product offering in this area by First Data. The application process is much the same as if you were applying for a UK merchant ID.
Then you will need a bank account in all of the currencies that you wish to accept payments in. Foreign currency accounts can be provided by all UK high street banks in most of the major foreign currencies that you would probably need. When you fill in your merchant (card processing) application you simply include the IBAN and BIC numbers associated with your foreign currency accounts so that you can get paid directly into those accounts.
Thirdly, you need a payment gateway provider. Again, this is exactly the same as you would if you were going to accept card payments in GB£ on your UK web-site. The only slight difference is that some providers of multi-currency merchant ID’s insist that Gateway providers are properly accredited by them before they can process those international card payments. But any merchant services provider will be able to provide you with a list of accredited gateway providers to work with, although it helps if they have experience of who provides the best solution, rather than just recommending their own proprietary system.
Finally, you need an e-commerce (web-site) provider who has the knowledge and experience to write a few lines of code that will enable your web-site to interact with the Gateway so that it knows which currency it should process any given transaction in. In other words, they must be able to enable the customer to select their preferred currency, and offer the correct price, in the right currency. Simple enough, as long as you know how, of course.
It is true to say that in some instances, foreign currency exchange fluctuations may have left some businesses quids in. But isn’t there a very good reason why you didn’t decide to go into business gambling on the international currency exchange?
For more information about how you may be able to accept card payments in overseas currencies, please fill out the contact form on this website.