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1. Why accept international payments?

How to accept international payments: A guide for businesses

In a business landscape increasingly defined by geographical boundaries' erosion, grasping how to effectively accept international payments has become necessary. This comprehensive guide aims to unravel the complexities of receiving payments across borders. Covering crucial topics, such as currency conversion, international transaction fees, secure payment gateways, and adherence to local regulations, it empowers businesses to operate on a global scale confidently.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • Accepting international payments allows businesses to connect with a diverse customer base worldwide, boosting their presence in the international market and potentially increasing sales and revenue.

  • Currency conversion is crucial for accurate pricing in different regions. Businesses must consider exchange rates, which fluctuate daily due to various factors, and be aware of currency conversion fees charged by payment gateways or financial institutions.

  • International transaction fees, charged by banks or payment gateways for accepting payments internationally, can impact a business's bottom line. Understanding these fees, comparing different providers, and negotiating better rates are essential for cost-effective global operations.

  • Selecting an appropriate method for international payments requires considering factors like currency conversion, processing fees, and transaction times. Options range from international bank wire transfers and online payment platforms to traditional methods like international money orders, cryptocurrencies, and checks.

  • To receive international payments, companies can choose from payment gateways such as FreshBooks, PayPal, Stripe, Worldpay, Alipay, Skrill, Amazon Pay, and Authorize.Net.

Why accept international payments?

When businesses accept payments from international customers, it opens up a new world of opportunities. It's not just about reaching more people internationally but connecting with a diverse array of customers from all over the world. This can really boost a company's presence in the international market and drive up sales.

By going global with international payment options, a business isn't just making money; it's making a name for itself. It’s about being seen in different markets, which can lead to exciting partnerships and growth opportunities.


Demystifying currency conversion for global brands

If you've ever wondered why a product priced at $100 in the United States may sell for €85 in Europe or ¥10,000 in Japan, currency conversion is the answer. By understanding this concept, companies can ensure accurate pricing and smooth transactions, regardless of where their customers are. 

Put simply, currency conversion is the process of converting the value of a certain amount of money in one currency into its equivalent value in another. This conversion, however, varies from day to day. The changing values are referred to as exchange rates, which are affected by many factors, such as inflation rates, interest rates, and geopolitical instability. 

The good news is you don't have to keep track of these fluctuations yourself. There are currency conversion tools available that help calculate exchange rates during currency conversion. However, it's not all rainbows and unicorns. While currency conversion tools make your life easier by doing the heavy lifting, they can also lead to additional fees. These are known as currency conversion fees, often charged by payment gateways or financial institutions for converting currency.

International transaction fees: What you need to know

International transaction fees are a critical element to consider when contemplating global business operations. They encompass charges levied by banks or payment gateways for processing international payments. Given their potential to affect your business's bottom line, understanding them is paramount. Here are the key points you should consider: 

  • Recognize the variables: Fees can be influenced by various factors, such as the payment gateway you use, the countries involved in the transaction, the foreign currency, and the transaction amount.

  • Comparison is key: Not all banks or payment gateways levy the same fees. It is worth comparing these across different providers to determine the most cost-effective option.

  • Understand your billing: Providers may charge a flat fee per transaction, a percentage of the transaction amount, or a combination of both. Ensure you understand your billing method.

  • Beware of hidden fees: Read the fine print. Some providers may have hidden fees that are not immediately apparent.

  • Aggregate payments: If possible, consolidating multiple payments into one can help reduce transaction costs.


How to accept international payments?

When it comes to accepting international payments, a variety of payment methods can be used. However, to select the right payment method for your business needs, you must consider currency conversion and online transfer fees and the time it takes to process these international payments. Making the right choice in this regard can significantly impact your business's financial health.

International bank wire transfers

International wire transfers are a reliable method for accepting global payments. This traditional approach involves sending money from one bank to another across international borders, typically offering speed and security. However, financial institutions may charge significant fees for this service, and fluctuations in the exchange market could impact the final deposit amount.

Online payments

Online payment platforms, such as PayPal, Stripe, Wise, and Amazon Payments, provide a convenient and fast way to accept international payments. They offer features like currency conversion and are often user-friendly. However, they come with processing fees and require internet access. They are ideal for ecommerce and services with digital delivery and can be used via local account details.

International money order

This is a more traditional method. International money orders are secure and don't require a local bank account. They are useful for non-digital transactions but can be slower and have processing fees. They're suitable for clients who prefer not to use digital payment methods. However, it can pose a challenge in today's fast-paced business environment, given its slow processing.


Cryptocurrencies offer a modern, decentralized way of receiving payments internationally. They provide fast transactions with typically lower fees and enhanced privacy. However, they are subject to market volatility and regulatory differences across countries, making them a more complex choice. Understanding these complexities is essential for businesses to utilize cryptocurrencies effectively and securely.

International checks and bank drafts

These are secure and widely accepted but can be slower due to the need for physical mailing and clearance through banking systems. They incur processing fees and are subject to fraud risks. Suitable for businesses and clients comfortable with traditional banking methods. These methods have longer processing times, and their potential security issues might pose challenges for businesses seeking to operate efficiently on a global scale.


Payment gateway options for seamless global transactions

Now that we've navigated the labyrinth of currency conversions and transaction fees, let's shift focus to your business's nerve center of digital transactions: the Payment Gateway. Ensuring a seamless experience for customers worldwide depends largely on choosing the right gateway tailor-made for global operations. Here are a few recommendations for you.


If you're running a service-based business, Freshbooks provides an ideal solution for accepting international payments. Not only does it allow multi-currency billing, but it also sends automatic reminders for overdue payments. The platform's payment features are designed to save you time and streamline your financial operations.


Noteworthy in the international market, PayPal has a solid reputation as a reliable payment gateway. If your business heavily relies on ecommerce, consider this platform, as it offers features like shopping cart integration, easy online invoicing, and flexibility to configure various currencies for payment.


Favored by tech-savvy businesses, Stripe provides flexibility with comprehensive APIs and supports over 135 currencies. Known for its intuitive dashboard, it helps businesses streamline payment acceptance. However, Stripe's per-transaction fees and complex terminology might prove challenging for those new to international business. Ensure you're proficient in basic tech language before considering this option.


Worldpay offers a comprehensive solution for international transactions, supporting various foreign currencies and payment methods. It caters to both small and large businesses, providing secure transactions with fraud protection. Its global reach and versatility make it a popular choice for businesses expanding internationally.


Predominantly used in China, Alipay is one of the world's largest mobile and online payment platforms. It's ideal for businesses targeting the Chinese market, offering secure and convenient transactions. Alipay's widespread acceptance in China makes it essential for companies looking to tap into this vast consumer base.


This payment gateway specializes in low-cost international money transfers, appealing to both individuals and businesses. It supports multiple currencies and offers a digital wallet service. Skrill is known for its straightforward interface, making it a user-friendly option for cross-border payments.

Amazon Pay

Amazon Pay leverages Amazon's vast user base, offering a familiar and trusted payment interface. It's integrated with Amazon's ecosystem, making it a seamless choice for ecommerce transactions, especially for businesses aiming to provide a smooth checkout experience for Amazon users.


A versatile payment solution known for its reliability and security, Authorize.Net supports various payment types, including international credit card payments and electronic checks. Its robust fraud protection and ability to handle recurring payments make it a popular choice among diverse businesses, from startups to established enterprises—however, this platform charges setup and monthly fees.

Ensuring transaction security: Safeguarding your international payments

The digital age has seen an uptick in cybercrime, and businesses must ramp up security measures to outsmart these ever-creative hackers. Invest in firewalls, encrypted communications, secure networks, and SSL protocols to keep critical financial information safe. Engage third-party consultants for routine security assessments and implement their recommendations in a timely manner.

Additionally, choose payment gateways known for robust security measures. These gateway providers should comply with 'Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS)' protocols – a global security standard.


Compliance challenges: Adhering to local regulations

Complying with local regulations is a matter of paramount importance when accepting international payments. Even though the digital age has made it relatively easy to accept international payments, the regulatory landscape remains complex and varies from country to country. To help you navigate these complexities, here's what you need to consider: 

Know your customer (KYC)

As a measure against identity theft, financial fraud, and terrorist financing, KYC requirements are mandatory for businesses dealing with international transactions. They involve verifying the customers' identities, proving their addresses, and confirming that they aren't on international sanctions lists.

Data protection and privacy requirements

You must be familiar with data protection laws such as GDPR in Europe, CCPA in California, and PDPB in India. These regulations dictate what customer information you can hold and how you can use it, especially when it pertains to international transactions.

Local payment method preferences

Each region or country may have its unique set of preferred payment methods. Incorporating these options would significantly improve customer satisfaction and conversion rates. Therefore, it is worth understanding and integrating these methods into your payment system.

International taxes and duties

Depending on your business model and region, there could be implications with international taxes and duties, including VAT for businesses in the European Union and GST for those in Australia, India, and New Zealand. It is crucial to be familiar with these to avoid any surprise charges that could compromise your profit margins.

Integrate with Gelato and streamline order-to-delivery process

Running a global business can be complex and demanding, especially when it comes to managing international orders and transactions. Fortunately, Gelato makes things significantly smoother. As a global print on demand platform, Gelato simplifies the operational side of your global business and takes a massive load off your shoulders.

  • Local production for a global audience: Gelato localizes production to serve your international customers. Imagine your products, including t-shirts, mugs, phone cases, and wall art, being made closer to wherever your customers are located. This local approach not only speeds up delivery but also supports local businesses. It’s like having a global network at your fingertips!

  • Top-notch quality, every time: When it comes to quality, Gelato doesn’t compromise. Whether your customers are in Paris, Tokyo, or New York, they get the same stellar quality. This consistency is key to building your brand’s reputation.

  • Fast & direct shipping: We all know how important fast shipping is in today’s world. Gelato’s got this covered with swift and direct shipping. It means your products don't just travel less distance, but they also get to your customers faster. 

So, while you handle international payments and grow your customer base, Gelato seamlessly takes care of locally producing top-quality products and shipping them quickly and directly to your customers. With Gelato integrated into your business, you can be sure to impress your customers, no matter where they are in the world. Sign up for Gelato today!


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