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International merchant account: how to open, how to choose a third party

Want to process payments and accept transactions from worldwide? You definitely need an international merchant account. We can all agree that it will be difficult and time-consuming to open separate accounts in every country you will operate in. Optimal decision will be to find a third-party service provider. And choosing the right provider is a decision that requires a thoughtful approach. The latest changes in the industry reminds us once again that there are many points to consider before opening a merchant account, so later on you will not have to worry about the safety and availability of your company’s funds. 

In this article we will highlight the main criteria you need to pay attention to while choosing a PSP. 

What is an international merchant account?

International merchant account gives the e-commerce business an ability to accept and process payments from all around the world in multiple currencies determined by the account provider. International merchant account is also known as an offshore merchant account. The offshore merchant account is basically the same as a traditional one, the only difference is that it is opened not in local bank, but in the bank in other country, where a merchant is non-resident. 

Still, some people may get confused or suspicious hence the term “offshore” associates with something shady… 

 We see why this misconception still takes place, especially for people who are not familiar with the financial industry closely. However, there are several reasons why you might want to open an offshore business account:

1. As we mentioned before — your company operates the business in several or multiple countries. Running a business worldwide requires you to receive payments in multiple currencies as this will eliminate transaction and exchange fees for your customers that in turn will lower the risk of chargebacks and refunds for you. High level of chargebacks and refunds can create an unpleasant reputation of your company for acquiring banks and card association to consider your company as the one that operates in high-risk business.

2. Your company has brunches worldwide. For each office your company needs to have its business account to function. 

 3. Being in a high-risk business. You may not operate globally, but if your company’s business belongs to a high-risk vertical, it can cause some difficulties in opening a regular merchant account in your local bank (not all of them want to be involved with high-risk business) and it can prompt you to look for the abilities to open an offshore merchant account. In reality, most of the international merchant accounts are related to high-risk business. 

What to pay attention to while choosing a PSP: 

 There are a lot of factors to consider, which can depend on a business industry you work with, but we highlighted the main criteria, common to all the merchants:

  • Currencies. Check whether the PSP you are considering supports all the currencies needed for your business. You want to make the payments more simple and cost effective for your clients, so that means the PSP has to cover the transactions in all required currencies. 
  • Fees. Intently check and compare all the fees charged by PSPs to make sure you’ve chosen the most suitable option for your business. Check transaction, statement, annual, setup, chargeback, monthly minimum fees. Also, do not forget to check the fees and conditions for the case of early cancellation, in case you will need to end your agreement beforehand. The average time of agreement for the merchant account may vary in different countries.
  • Transaction volume. Most of the PSPs have a sliding system of transaction fees. It depends on the monthly transaction volume that you will be processing. If the amount of transactions increasing, the fees—decreasing and vice versa. 
  • Technical abilities. Make sure your companies` current technical abilities comply with PSP tech requirements, so you wouldn’t have to upgrade your software urgently. 
  • Experience. Check if the PSPs you are considering had a previous experience with the companies from the same industry as yours. If they do, they probably would better understand your needs and specificities. 
  • Location and support. Give priority to the PSP who provide support services in your country and can be available whenever you will have any issues. 
  • Payment gateway. One of the key factors to pay attention to. Maybe someone thinks every PSP provide payment gateway by default, but it’s not always the case. 


Payment service provides vs payment gateway. Who is who?

  • Payment methods. What kind of payments and what alternative payment methods do they support, like debit and credit card payments, mobile payments, e-payments, electronic bill payments, e-wallets, etc. Do they support recurring payments? Choose the PSP that supports the methods you need. 
  • Benefits and features. Ask PSPs what additional features or benefits they may provide based on your business type, industry specifics, etc. It can be something like risk management, anti-fraud protection, and many other options. 

Bust most importantly — PSP isn’t just a tool, but a partner to your company, so look for the one you are comfortable to work with. 

 And with all that criteria, efficiency and personal approach as our motto, we have created Genome – a new-generation payment ecosystem that provides an ability to manage business merchant and settlement accounts, along with personal at one dashboard. This is a unique all-in-one financial solution for merchants to maintain all of their business and personal funds in one place, with no need to deal with different banks, share personal and business data with multiple parties, transfer money between accounts and exchange money with high fees. 



What documents do I need to open an offshore merchant account? Read here