The Western Union Business Solutions Learning Center is a blog provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial, tax or accounting advice. Consult your own independent advisors regarding your particular needs and circumstances.
Even when sales are booming, a company can be put in jeopardy if its customers aren't paying when they should. For small businesses that operate internationally there are specific strategies that can make it easier to receive international payments from customers in foreign countries. Here are a few options to consider.
When customers make cross-border foreign exchange payments, they may submit the full amount due to the business - only to have an unfavorable exchange rate reduce the amount that the company ends up receiving.
Business owners may want to suggest that their international customers use a trusted online foreign exchange service to take advantage of exchange rates in real time, guard against sending insufficient funds and send money online.
Learn More About Using Online FX
Even when international customers send payment in a timely manner, the process for converting and depositing funds can take weeks.
For example, if an American company is getting paid in Canadian dollars with a check that is being deposited into a U.S. bank account, the bank may not convert the check right away because it's a foreign check, says Victor Hinojosa, director of North American partnerships with Western Union Business Solutions. As a result, it can take two to six weeks before the funds are converted back to USD, Hinojosa says.
On the other hand, services such as Western Union® Online FX use a network of international banks that can make those foreign payments happen in a timely manner. "We leverage our banking network so it becomes a local transaction," Hinojosa says. "That reduces the cash flow exposure you would have dramatically."
Once again, businesses can nudge their customers toward making more timely international payments by suggesting the use of an online FX service that can leverage its ties to banks around the globe.
In some cases, a customer's home country plays a role in lagging payments.
If an international business is dealing with customers and merchants within North America, Western Europe and certain parts of Asia, "things tend to work within a normal business cycle," Hinojosa says. That means spot foreign exchange transactions can take two or three business days to execute and arrive.
"But when you start going outside of that realm, and you deal within most parts of South America and Eastern Europe, you might want to give yourself at least a week for your payment to arrive, if not longer," Hinojosa says, explaining that lagging payments can result from limited banking overseas network coverage.
If a company is doing business in a new region, consider asking customers to send a very small payment that's not time sensitive - for example, $10 USD - to help gauge how long it's going to take to send and receive.
By putting specific strategies in place, businesses can make it easier for customers to pay and manage their cash flow when banking overseas. "If you're not a big corporation, talk to the experts because it's not your area of expertise," Hinojosa says. "Your expertise is managing your small enterprise and making it grow."
Example: 1USD = xx INR
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