Receiving Payments From Abroad as an E-Commerce Business

Entrepreneurship has changed my life for the better. As I’ve said before, I knew I wasn’t cut out for the 9-5 life after working several jobs in my 20s. Then I sold some books on Amazon, and the rest was history.

However, I won’t mislead you – working for yourself isn’t easy. There are many unexpected hurdles you have to jump, and at a moment’s notice.

Take payments, for example. Yes, it’s great to earn commissions and sell products, but many sales come from abroad. Now, transferring cash from a foreign nation doesn’t seem like a problem – at worst, some transactions take a few days to land in my account.

But one day, I got curious about the fees I was paying. And once I looked beneath the surface, I was shocked. On PayPal, rates can be as high as 2.9% of the transfer amount. And when you convert currency on Amazon, they usually take a 3.5% cut.

However, multi-currency accounts (also known as foreign currency collection accounts) offer a better way. By allowing you to move money domestically to accounts that offer better exchange rates/fees, I’ve saved so much cash! Online, there are a growing number of companies that offer these services – so in today’s post, I’ll break down the best collection accounts for foreign currency payments.

Wait – Multi-Currency Accounts? What are Those?

As you can probably guess, a multi-currency account allows you to hold multiple currencies. But in many countries (like Canada, where I live), you’ll be hard-pressed to find a bank that offers them. Some institutions here offer USD collection accounts, but that’s about it.

But online fintech startups are the exact opposite of the stodgy old guard. Rather than be dragged kicking and screaming into the future, sites like Wise are leading the way. On these platforms, you can receive cash into foreign currency collection accounts, exchange at a top-notch rate (with low fees), and do a domestic transfer to your bank account.

In short, it’s a revolution for e-commerce sellers and online businesses. Over an entire year, I’ve saved thousands of dollars in fees thanks to business collection accounts abroad – and that can buy a LOT of Pampers, folks!

So… Where Can I Get My Own Multi-Currency Account?

That’s a good question. It’s NOT hard to find multi-currency accounts, but so MANY sites offer them. What’s more, each offers their own value proposition, so it can be time-consuming to wade through them all.

So, I went ahead and did it for you – aren’t I so nice? Below, I’ll talk about the top firms offering the best collection accounts for foreign currency payments on the internet today.

Wise

Most multi-currency account providers have unique strengths, but I’m not gonna lie – I have a soft spot in my heart for Wise. Founded as Transferwise, this firm embarked on a seemingly impossible quest in 2011.

Their target? Oppressive bank fees. Their goal? To charge the interbank rate for currency trades. To be honest, I imagine they got laughed out of the room during their first venture capital meetings.

But luckily, some firms took a chance on a plucky pair of principled Estonians –  Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann. And thanks to that, a market starved for a good deal instead got an awesome one.

Except for a nominal transaction fee, clients got to move money at the interbank rate. Buoyed by that success, Wise continued to innovate. In 2016, they debuted the Borderless Account, an online account that allows you to hold over 40 currencies.

From Canadian dollar accounts to JPY collection accounts, all your bases are covered. You can move money from most online marketplaces to your Wise Borderless Account with no fees paid. Then within Wise, you convert your funds to your home currency, paying minimal fees. Lastly, you do a domestic transfer to your destination bank account, with no further fees incurred.

Simply amazing!

Payoneer

But Wise is far from the only show in town. These days, plenty of competitors are nipping at their heels. Of all the alternatives, Payoneer is an intriguing one. Way back in 2005, Yuval Tal founded this firm. At that time, the world of remote work and digital nomadism was nothing more than a fever dream.

But today, they are at the centre of an exploding universe of decentralized workers, freelancers, and entrepreneurs. They offer a wide slate of services that includes invoice creation, an Amazon Store Manager (tracks performance of various international marketplaces), and of course, foreign currency collection accounts.

Currently, this site offers loads of business collection accounts abroad. To be exact, they offer them for eight different currencies: CAD, USD, EUR, GBP, AUD, JPY, HKD, and SGD. For Payoneer, I find two things noteworthy: one, they have an awesome Euro collection accounts for ecommerce, and two, they have excellent coverage in Asian currencies. The Japanese Yen (JPY), Hong Kong Dollar (HKD), and the Singapore Dollar are all stable currencies, and they represent consumers with the greatest spending power in Asia.

Combine that with Payoneer’s versatile tools, and they are an excellent option for online sellers, whether they use USD collection accounts or JPY collection accounts.

OFX

Have you ever heard of OFX? I don’t blame you if you haven’t. But that doesn’t mean they are a bit player – quite the contrary. Founded in 1998 in Sydney, Australia, they were one of the pioneers of online money transfer.

More than twenty years later, they transfer more than 140 billion CAD for one million customers annually. And a big part of that business comes from online sellers – from Amazon to Klarna, e-commerce entrepreneurs depend on OFX to maximize their profits. In particular, many online sellers repariate profits from the latter marketplace using EUR collection accounts.

So, which currencies does OFX offer for their foreign currency collection accounts? If you operate in CAD, USD, EUR, GBP, HKD, or AUD, you can take advantage of the competitive rates that this firm offers. But they offer more benefits than that – OFX also employs dedicated dealers that keep abreast of world events.

As a result, they’ll advise you of opportune times to transfer funds from your EUR collection accounts – and when to sit tight.

Moneycorp

As useful as many multi-currency accounts are, there’s a problem. It’s this – the more accounts you juggle, the more complicated things get. I speak from experience, as all the foreign currency collection accounts I have with Wise have a different account number.

So I was surprised to learn that Moneycorp customers don’t suffer from this issue. Rather than issuing a different account number for each receiving account, this financial institution gives its clients a single receiving account.

But how? As it turns out, IBANs are a thing. IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number, and thanks to it, Moneycorp can receive 70 different currencies and change them into your preferred one – free of fees.

Now, it’s not all good news, as Moneycorp’s exchange rates often lag behind OFX and Wise. But, if you are looking for an online receiving account that can receive loads of exotic currencies, they might be a great choice for you.

World First

Regardless of what you might think of China, there’s no denying it: they are a rising economic force. So, as the Chinese middle class continues to grow, you would be leaving money on the table by NOT selling to them.

There’s a huge issue with that, though – not many Western-facing sites offer CNH (Chinese Yuan) receiving accounts. But World First does.

Shortly after their acquisition by China-based Ant Financial, they increased their integration with the world’s most populous nation. As a result, if you sell on Chinese e-commerce sites like Amazon China or Taobao, you can use World First to avoid punishing fees and exchange rates.

But World First isn’t all about China and CNH, they also offer these currencies: CAD, GBP, EUR, AUD, NZD, JPY, SGD, and HKD. They even offer USD collection accounts, even though World First isn’t available in the US – sorry American friends!

Airwallex

Yesterday’s fintech underdogs become the future’s financial establishment. That’s why it’s important to hear out startups – and if they align with our beliefs, support them. Airwallex is one of those firms.

Founded in 2015, Airwallex went live with the vision of creating a suite of financial services, all delivered from the cloud. Already, they’ve attracted loads of attention from venture capitalists worldwide.

They’ve taken money from well-known firms like Sequoia Capital and Greenoaks. Because of this, they now have a valuation that has breached unicorn territory – over 1 billion USD.

But enough of the hype – what do they offer e-commerce sellers? Naturally, global receiving accounts are one of their offerings – through them, you can receive currency from four currencies: USD, GBP, EUR, and AUD. I’ll be frank: that’s not a lot of business collection accounts abroad, but that’ll change soon.

So, with a lack of CAD accounts, I can’t throw my full support behind them. But with such an ambitious vision, I believe they’ll do amazing things (and hopefully, offering CAD accounts will soon be one of them).

Options Will Only Increase as the International Fintech Industry Grows

In my opinion, commerce is going in two major directions: international and online. These trends can’t be stopped – as we saw, the pandemic only threw grease onto the e-commerce fire.

As these online fintech firms continue to enjoy success, they and their successors will attract increasing investment. As they do, our banks face a clear choice. They can fight the future and endure a long, slow decline, or they can adapt to the new paradigm: one where cheaper, faster, and more transparent currency transactions are the norm.