When you’re running a business, it is likely that at some point you will need to make regular business to business international payments to suppliers, contractors or even staff overseas. As the true cost of foreign exchange is often hidden with traditional payment providers, most SMEs unknowingly spend too much on the cost of international payments.
For example, online resource Startup.co.uk reported that while UK banks give the stated fee of sending £1,000 at 2.56%, the actual fee including the exchange rate mark-up is 3.77%. Most of the time, the full cost of these international payments isn’t visible until you’ve made the transaction, making it difficult to compare the costs of different providers. This is no different in Asia or other markets.
Of course, you will want to limit the costs associated with exchanging one currency for another and transferring money overseas. Every cent spent on fees or FX margins means reduced profits for your business.
There are many different options available for making international payments in Asia and the option best suited to your needs mostly depends on how frequent and large your transactions are. Generally speaking, the traditional payment solutions such as business credit cards or bank to bank transfers are the least preferable as exchange rates include inflated costs and the additional fees for each transaction are too high.
Thankfully, there have been rapid developments in the last few years in the payment solutions space with new opportunities unlocked through technological advancements and innovative providers stepping up their game to help businesses stop overpaying for money transfers.
Here is an overview of the top 6 business payment providers in the Asia market that offer lower rates, faster transactions and more secure services.
Founded in 2014 in Hong Kong, Bitspark is the world’s first bankless money transfer ecosystem. Customers can use Bitspark's platform or App to send, exchange and receive 180+ currencies at better rates to save 1-14% on every transfer through the Bitspark web platform. The ecosystem spans across Asia and Africa with 500,000 cash-out locations.
While the system uses cryptocurrency stablecoins, customers do not need any crypto knowledge to benefit from the service. Bitspark handles the tech side so that your money transfers happen seamlessly on their user-oriented designed platform.
Faspay focuses on the Indonesian market with the aim of helping local online businesses grow. Their platform connects directly to a large network of payment processors, offering payment methods such as credit cards, debit, Internet banking, e-wallets and ATMs. They provide merchants with highly customisable solutions through multiple integration methods and features such as tokenisation, subscription billing, mobile payments, multi-currency, and risk/fraud management.
Founded in 2014, InstaREM is a cross-border payments company based in Singapore and is licensed as a Money Services Business in Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, India and Canada. The company provides zero margin FX rates - mid-market rates sourced directly from Reuters, without adding their own margins. Remittance fees are transparently displayed upfront together with the amount that the recipient would receive.
One of the oldest on this list, Payment Asia has been around since 1999 offering a secure and easy payment solution processing network for domestic and global businesses in the Southeast Asia region. Payment Asia provides clients with solutions that include simplified and cost-effective online payment processing for credit cards, debit cards, China Union Pay and e-Wallets.
Based in Kuala Lumpur, Tranglo is a global cross-border payment processing hub that supports business payments, mass payout, payment collection, money transfer and mobile top ups. Their payout service includes 100 countries, covering over 250 mobile network operators, 600 bank institutions and 100,000 cash points globally. Their platform is used by payment service providers, money service business, financial institutions and larger corporations.
TransferWise was founded in 2010 in Europe with the vision of making international money transfers cheap, fair, and simple. It operates a global network that accommodates bank transfers using a faster and cheaper system. Funding the account can be done either by direct bank transfer, debit or credit card. Once the money is in the TransferWise account, it can be sent to a recipient’s bank account anywhere in the world. In contrast to traditional bank transfers, TransferWise transparently displays its fees upfront and deducts it before conversion.
When dealing with cross-border money transfers, one of the most important factors when choosing a payment provider is making sure you get the most competitive exchange rates for international transactions. In addition to exchange rates, you should also keep the following factors in mind when making your decision:
Some providers could have minimum amount requirements while others will only transfer up to set maximums. A few might not have any limits on transfer amounts at all. When selecting a provider, make sure they will be able to serve your business needs on an ongoing basis.
How fast the service provider can make the transfer will depend largely on the technology they are using to conduct the transaction. By default, the traditional banking system is very slow with transactions taking between 5 to 11 days for exotic currencies. That would make TransferWise a much slower option compared to a cryptocurrency-enabled service with transactions completed in mere seconds.
This does not refer to the way you access the service, but rather the guarantee that you will be able access the service in the first place. This is especially important for businesses that predominantly deal in cash and consequently have difficulty opening bank accounts. This also applies to businesses who do have bank accounts but are at risk of being excluded from the traditional banking system, which can be the case if banks deem the relationship as risky and to ensure compliance may move to pre-emptively close the accounts. This is referred to as ‘de-risking’ and presents a very real threat to businesses of all stripes.
If you want to protect yourself from de-risking, it is best to choose a payment provider that does not require you to have a bank account so that you will be able to make payments reliably and engage with your own customers and partners confidently.
Bitspark is a bankless money transfer ecosystem that enables businesses and people to cash in and cash out cryptocurrencies across Asia and Africa.