It’s rare to find a business these days that, by design or necessity, doesn’t have some part of its supply chain or customer base overseas.
Today, it’s easy for even the smallest business to source the highest quality or most competitively priced goods or services from wherever they might be in the world, or to ship their goods to anywhere they're needed.
At the heart of this global trade are multi-currency payments, which foster international commerce by allowing buyers and suppliers to transact in their preferred currencies.
But multi-currency payments go beyond simply making foreign exchange transactions. It’s a whole system of payment processing that deals with the complexity of regional differences, taxes, and regulations.
In this article, we explain how multi-currency payments work, what a multi-currency gateway is, how they differ from cross-border payments, their benefits, uses, and more.
Multi-currency payments refers to the practice of processing payments in different currencies. During the transaction, the buyer makes a payment in their domestic currency and the supplier receives the funds in their own domestic currency.
Many factors influence the exchange rate between currencies, including each country’s economic stability, supply and demand, and trade terms, which can result in high transaction fees and tax implications.
Multi-currency payment providers allow businesses to limit the effects of these unpredictable forces, and to make more cost-effective and streamlined international payments to their overseas partners.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to how multi-currency payments work:
A payment gateway is the software that securely captures cardholder data at checkout and submits it to the issuing bank and card networks for approval and authorization.
A conventional payment gateway takes the payment in the domestic currency of the buyer, which, if the seller operates in a different country, then has to be converted into a foreign currency by an intermediary at a high cost to the merchant.
A multi-currency payment gateway avoids these costs by allowing the buyer to transact in one currency and the seller to withdraw the funds in another.
For example, here’s how a multi-currency payment gateway works in practice:
The key difference between cross-border payments and multi-currency payments is that, while cross-border payments always take place between entities in two different countries, a multi-currency payment could be conducted between two entities in the same country, provided the transaction is made using different currencies.
For example, an international business may have a presence in the same country as a customer or supplier, but still choose to transact in a foreign, non-domestic currency, because of where they are headquartered.
In our increasingly globalized world, multi-currency payments are useful for a variety of commercial purposes.
Online shopping is essentially commerce without borders. Since, unlike a brick and mortar store, your online shop is available to any country you’re prepared to ship to, Ecommerce opens up a global customer base to merchants and a world of products to consumers.
Multi-currency payments reduce the costs and friction for merchants of taking Ecommerce payments from consumers in foreign countries.
For marketplace platforms and their merchants, multi-currency payments streamline the processing of payments from customers in a variety of countries and, subsequently, allow those platforms to disburse the correct payouts to their merchants in their preferred currency. This ensures everyone party in the chain can avoid the high fees that would otherwise be incurred by multiple currency conversions.
Nonprofits with interests in countries other than their own often have to send large donations in foreign currencies. By using multi-currency payment processing, nonprofits can avoid the high costs of international transactions that could otherwise take significant deductions from aid to communities in need.
If you’re a global business with suppliers in another country, you will frequently have to make overseas payments to restock. Without multi-currency payment processing, the currency conversion fees incurred every time could be really punishing and affect your business relationships with international suppliers.
Here are the main benefits of multi-currency payments for both customers and merchants:
There are many solutions to choose from to help you with multi-currency payment processing. To choose the most suitable option for your needs, you should take into account these key considerations:
Complying with the rules and regulations can be one of the most prohibitive aspects of international commerce, especially when failure to meet those obligations can result in penalties. That’s why it’s so important to work with a multi-currency payment provider that provides expert support for navigating these complexities by, for example, meeting industry standards like PCI-DSS or regulations like GDPR. That way you don’t have to spend time and effort worrying about legal issues, and can instead focus on growing your business.
Fraud is a major issue for all online businesses, but especially so for those that trade overseas. Cybercriminals can take advantage of weaknesses in the global payment system, as well as the anonymity granted by ecommerce, to commit theft and money laundering. Security should be at the heart of whichever payment provider you choose. Automated fraud detection, which uses machine learning and flexible rules to spot and block suspicious transactions, is essential.
Customer preferences vary significantly by region, not just in terms of currencies but also payment methods. Choose a multi-currency payment provider that allows you to meet those changing needs by offering a variety of popular local payment methods, currencies and shipping options. That will help to build trust and boost sales with customers wherever they’re located.
Checkout.com is the perfect partner for online businesses with an international presence. We allow you to accept payments in more than 150 currencies in every global region, and we also offer numerous settlement currencies.
On top of that, we are compliant with all major payment industry regulations and automatically adapt to changing legislation so you don’t have to worry. You’ll also get peace of mind thanks to our robust fraud detection and prevention system, which fights fraudsters while increasing your acceptance of legitimate transactions.
Find out more about Checkout.com’s international coverage.