Cross Border Payments
Editor's Choice Fintech Paytech World-Region-Country

What Is the Top Priority for Firms Looking To Offer Cross-Border Payments?

Payments are arguably the face of fintech. When you think about financial technology, it is easy to think about solutions which are making payments faster, easier and more accessible.

Having discussed the myths, hype and usage of buy now pay later (BNPL), we now turn our focus to cross-border payments. To begin this focus, we first look at what businesses should prioritise when looking to offer cross-border solutions.

Controlling the user experience 
Eddie Harrison, co-founder and CPO at Paytrix
Eddie Harrison, co-founder and CPO at Paytrix

With the amount of digital offerings available these days, consumers will happily abandon one process in lieu of a simple, seamless one. As a result, Eddie Harrison, co-founder and chief product officer Paytrix, the paytech, notes the importance of making a user-friendly service.

“Consumers demand seamless payment experiences and don’t want to be taken off to the websites of random payment intermediaries. Therefore, it’s important to choose a payment solution that enables you to control the user experience as much as possible.

“While orchestration layers can save merchants time by accessing ready-made connections they are unable to benefit from the economies of scale that provide savings. This is because orchestration layers are unregulated and unable to sit in the flow of funds. But payment curation solutions solve these problems. They streamline and simplify international transactions by consolidating multiple layers of connections, contracts, KYC processes, and infrastructure into a unified interface, offering businesses efficient access to top global payments providers in a ‘plug and play’ fashion.”

Local offerings are a key to success
Ruhi Dang, head of product in EMEA at Stripe
Ruhi Dang, head of product in EMEA at Stripe

Though it requires more research and can take longer to implement, Ruhi Dang, head of product in EMEA at Stripe, the payments platform, explains why localisation services are imperative to successful cross-border payments.

“International trade winds have shifted in recent years. Two-thirds of businesses surveyed by Stripe said they plan to expand into other countries in the next two years. But as these companies hunt for growth and a hedge against economic shocks, they’ll have to navigate an increasingly complex and fragmented global financial system.

“Businesses that localise their payments experience for each new market will have a far higher chance of success. Stripe research shows that 95 per cent of customers choose to check out in their local currency when given the option, and 85 per cent of customers will abandon cart if their preferred payment method isn’t offered.

“A merchant can meaningfully boost conversion by presenting prices in local currency and offering consumers their favourite local payment method–whether that’s bank-based iDeal in the Netherlands or in-person Konbini in Japan.

“Your payment platform should make it easy to identify the most popular local payment methods, switch them on instantly without extra engineering effort, and start testing demand in a new market before you make major investments.”

Meeting modern-day demands
Daniel Mayhew, CEO, Nucleus365
Daniel Mayhew, CEO, Nucleus365

Daniel Mayhew, CEO, Nucleus365, the paytech, analyses what firms looking to expand must consider now, real-time payments; and in the future, evolving regulations.

As e-commerce growth continues to surge, merchants are looking for fast, adaptable, and secure payment facilitation on a global scale. To support this, the chief priority for businesses looking to offer cross-border payments should be to allow for more real-time cross-border payments.

Another priority that goes hand-in-hand with that is building a fully integrated platform that allows merchants to make and receive payments in all the countries they operate in. This can of course take some time; however, payment providers must adapt to the needs of the market to maintain a competitive edge. Keeping up with regulations will also be vital. As regulatory compliances are updated, fintechs and payment platforms with robust currency management programs, multiple licences and MCCY IBAN’s will become more popular with businesses engaged in global trade.

Back to basics
Ali Al Bajati head of product Volopa
Ali Al Bajati head of product Volopa

Cross-border payments can sound complicated, and the ideas behind successful implementation can be daunting for scale-ups. However, Ali Al Bajati head of product Volopa, the payment solutions provider, notes that core values like simplicity, service and expertise are the key factors for cross-border success.

“Service and expertise: With the instability of the economic climate globally, it is crucial for cross-border payments providers to leverage their expertise to advise clients on the best time to make international payments and FX conversions. Are there any upcoming events that clients should be aware of? Can any risks be mitigated pro-actively? These are questions that FX and international payments providers must help their clients with.

“Simplicity: Clients are busy and navigating the complexities of international payments is an unnecessary headache. Payment providers must capture and validate necessary payments information through intuitive user journeys, to avoid unnecessary delays and pain-points.”

A one-stop shop provider
Ryan O’Holleran, head of enterprise sales EMEA at Airwallex
Ryan O’Holleran, head of enterprise sales EMEA at Airwallex

A recurring theme that has emerged from the industry is the need for simplicity. For example, Ryan O’Holleran head of sales, enterprise Airwallex notes how a single partner can cater to a firm’s every need when looking to expand abroad.

“For businesses with a multi-market strategy, choosing a trusted payment provider that caters to your needs is paramount. When evaluating a provider, it’s valuable to consider their global reach; this includes the currencies they manage, the countries they can transfer to, and where you can open local bank accounts. All of this can indicate whether this provider can accommodate the requirements of your business and recipients across target markets.

“Concurrent with reach, it’s essential to look at processing fees, conversion fees, and transaction speed, all of which can seriously hamper cash flow. This is especially true if fees are ultra-high and settlement periods are lengthy. For years, banks and payment providers have had to rely on SWIFT in Europe to transfer funds which can be costly and time-consuming.

“When it comes to the cross-border needs of small businesses, we know from our Airwallex research that SMBs use numerous financial service providers to manage international money transfers. Disjointed payout systems from this can cause issues, with 48 per cent of respondents stating they have experienced delays in processing and disbursing payments. For all businesses, the right provider who can offer a one-stop-shop solution is a far better and more cost-effective option.”

Ensuring all regulations are met
Sean Forward CEO payabl. cross-border payments
Sean Forward, CEO, payabl.

A massive hurdle for firms can be ensuring their offerings, which are compliant within their country of origin, are also meeting regulatory demands from the countries they’re expanding to. Sean Forward CEO of paytech, payabl. says: “When businesses consider offering cross-border payments, their primary focus should be on the origin and destination countries involved in the transactions, ensuring they comply with mainstream and regulated jurisdictions.

“Once the suitability of these jurisdictions is confirmed, the next step is to determine the currency for the transfer.

“Assuming no foreign exchange (FX) conversion is required, businesses should conduct due diligence on the recipient, verifying the accuracy of the bank account details and ensuring they align precisely with the intended payee. In cases where FX conversion is necessary, businesses should decide whether to engage an FX broker to secure favourable commercial terms.”

Barriers to entry persist
Saxon Bartop, head of innovation, Partior cross-border payments
Saxon Bartop, head of innovation, Partior

Saxon Bartop, head of innovation, Partior, the global unified ledger market infrastructure for clearing and settlement, notes which barriers are proving bothersome for firms and how they can be overcome.

“Improving cross-border payments has gained significant attention with the increasing efficiency of domestic systems and the erosion of borders in financial transactions. Yet, challenges such as access, costs and barriers-to-entry persist and vary across corridors. Operating models for major currency corridors have been streamlined, however, less developed corridors still face higher costs, which limits foreign investment and economic growth.

“To address these inefficiencies, new approaches and technologies are necessary. A compliant bearer deposit token instrument would eliminate counterparty credit risk and could enable a decentralised digital identity-based pre-validation protocol to deliver low-cost automated global compliance, transparency, and privacy.

“Combined, these benefits would substantially improve cross-border payments in particularly underserved corridors, and enable a multitude of sophisticated use cases more generally through native composability or bundling of conditional transactions enabled through tokenisation.

“Additionally, central banks are exploring innovative solutions such as CBDC privacy (e.g, BIS Aurum)
and interoperability solutions (e.g, Deutsche Bundesbank Trigger Solution). These new capabilities will
accelerate the shift towards a token-centric paradigm enabled by next-generation platforms like Partior’s
Unified Ledger technology.

Stablecoins and cross-border lending are key factors
Yusuf Ozdalga partner head of UK and Europe QED Investors cross-border payments
Yusuf Ozdalga partner head of UK and Europe QED Investors

For Yusuf Ozdalga partner head of UK and Europe QED Investors, the fintech venture capital investor, there are two primary things for firms to consider when looking abroad.

“The world of cross-border payments is currently one of the fastest changing and most exciting areas of fintech. And it is easy to understand why – the ups and down associated with trying to return to normalcy in a post-pandemic world, geopolitical tensions, the advent of stablecoins and the emergence of nearshoring have all created lots of new problems and opportunities for fintech entrepreneurs.

“Founders looking to start businesses in this vast space, should keep two big trends in mind:

Stablecoins

“Firstly, stablecoin-based cross-border money transfer has created lots of opportunities: Parts of the world (e.g many areas in Africa) have a shortage of dollars, owing mostly to the desire of local governments to control or influence exchange rates.

“On the other hand, other parts of the world (e.g China) have an excess of dollars owing to the heavily export-related nature of their economies. Stablecoins, if used appropriately, can in fact be a means to solve this imbalance.

“The best example of this would be a African e-commerce company looking to buy intermediate goods from China for re-export, but struggling to get their hands on the dollars needed to initiate the trade, or having to pay a high premium or high transaction costs to access those dollars. In these types of instances, stablecoins can serve as a bridge.

Lending

“Secondly, while most of the money is made in cross-border payments, there is also a lot to be made from lending: Cross-border payments are one of the most lucrative areas within payments. However, lending is one of the most lucrative areas within all of finance.

“Companies that can combine lending with their payments services, especially if they benefit from proprietary sources of data, can unlock better monetisation and better unit economics.”

Author

  • Francis is a journalist and our lead LatAm correspondent, with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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