There are many longstanding providers, and many more that have entered the market over the last five years. We have taken a look at the key FX players offering banking solutions for ecommerce and worked through the features and pricing to present a simple comparison, and recommendation of which providers best suit your business' current setup.
Factors to consider when choosing a multi-currency
There are four key factors to look at when identifying which provider is the best fit for you:
- Exchange rates + fees
- Features and security
- Customer service
Exchange rate plus fees is the real cost
How much the exchange rate you receive differs from the actual exchange rate, plus the fees the provider charges, are the total cost your business faces each time it translates currency. These two things, need to be considered together.
Look for a provider that does a good job of showing you the total cost of exchanging a realistic amount of currency for your business. Most of the providers we would recommend have calculators on their marketing websites. So, if you are a UK business selling in the US, forecast which provider serves you best by checking how much in GBP you are left with after translating your USD.
Pricing is often tiered, so doing a side-by-side comparison between providers is not always possible, and there may be no substitute for plugging in realistic estimates.
Feature and security
There are many features that can benefit an ecommerce business, so be sure to check how these fit with how you run your business. Key things to look for are:
- Ease of integration with 3rd party software, e.g. Xero
- Can you make bulk payments?
- Are they approved as solution for receiving disbursements (particularly important for Amazon sellers)?
- Can you enable other users, securely?
- Does it cover the currencies you need?
We've selected the providers that score highly on feature sets that we know are relevant for online sellers.
This can make a big difference and is one of the main points of differentiation in the market. Some providers lead with good customer service, in the form of fast account opening, good response time, and high levels of support available.
Where this can be particularly important to businesses, is in terms of the providers' risk and control processes. We have excluded from our list providers who have a track record of poor customer service, specifically in this area. Key concerns are having your accounts frozen without warning and for long periods with little communication.
If you select a provider outside of this list, we encourage you to check with your peers and seller forums, what the service level is like with a provider, as issues with your banking provider can present serious operational issues for a business.
The top bank accounts
We have listed the give multi-currency banking providers who score highly in all categories.
These providers are used by many of our clients and strike the right balance of low costs, good feature sets, and high customer service.
Wise is one of the most popular solutions for ecommerce sellers; a key USP is that you receive a business MasterCard debit with your account as well as a number of nice-to-have features, including bulk payment feature that means you can pay all of your suppliers in one go, no matter the destination or source currency.
If you are exchanging less than around £1m equivalent per year and trading in the major currencies, then this is the account for you. It also has the lowest minimum transfer amounts so it is useful if you need the flexibility to make small payments.
Payoneer is the platform with the greatest focus on serving online sellers. Notable features are free payments and connectivity when paying tax authorities for EU VAT, as well as specific merchant features like the Amazon Store Manager. Additionally, you do not pay a fee to transfer amounts to other Payoneer users which can be a significant saving for those whose suppliers are part of the Payoneer network
If you are exchanging less than around £1m equivalent per year and you might benefit from some of the online seller specific features, then this is the account for you. In particular, if you have a significant number of payees/suppliers who use Payoneer, the savings here often make this the most the most cost-effective solution.
WorldFirst are one of the largest providers in the market and are extremely competitive on price.
They target larger sellers, and are usually the most cost-effective provider for sellers who exchange large amounts per year. They also provide currency hedging tools which tends to be more important for larger sellers and are an approved Amazon disbursement solution.
Airwallex is a technology platform and banking provider specifically designed for e-commerce merchants and Amazon sellers scaling globally. Good one price, excellent features, and an approved Amazon disbursement solution.
We’ve partnered with Airwallex to offer you complimentary account opening, priority onboarding, and your first £20k FX free. Airwallex simplifies money for your business, allowing you to collect, convert, transfer and make payments globally with multi-currency VISA cards.
OFX is one of the most competitive providers on price and offer a suite of tools for managing currency risk, and has a strong focus on ecommerce sellers.
It particularly suits price-sensitive and sophisticated sellers who wish to hedge currency risk with forward contracts.
Cross-border bank accounts have come a long way in the last couple of years and the major providers now all offer simple to use, feature-rich accounts. The decision comes down mainly to how much currency your business converts in a given year. Use the table above as a guide to which account is likely to be the best fit for your business. If you want more guidance about when you should be looking at setting up banking providers, then check out our Starting Up Guide.
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