The industry’s come a long way since merchants first began to use the Internet to sell products to a global audience. Once upon a time, credit cards were the only possible way to accept payment via the Internet. A host of alternative methods now exist to transfer money between customers and marketers. These payment methods can be divided into two types: those appropriate across multiple markets, and those that must be set up in each local market you target.
When taking a global approach to international sales, you essentially decide to treat every customer the same, regardless of his or her geographic location. These customers are offered the same payment methods and payment forms. You even may decide to only offer pricing in U.S. dollars, though dynamic currency exchange can be used to provide the approximate value of each product in your customer’s home currency.
The two payment methods most appropriate for a global approach are international credit card and e-wallet solutions. The most important consumer credit cards internationally are Visa and MasterCard.
E-wallet solutions provide a payment bridge between the marketer and the customer. Customers pay into their e-wallet, then initiate a payment from their e-wallet provider to you, the marketer. The e-wallet provider may offer to pay you by an electronic funds transfer, check or international wire—minus its payment fee. PayPal, Moneybookers and NETELLER are just a few e-wallet solutions currently available to international marketers.
Taking the Local Route
The cultural attitude toward payment is different in every country. Marketers that choose to take a more local or regional approach to international sales often tailor their Web sites to the payment preferences of consumers in a given market. As such, they may design multiple payment pages.
Credit cards are as important a payment option for a local approach as they are for a global approach. The cards accepted, however, may vary by country. In addition to Visa and MasterCard, consider offering the JCB card for Japanese yen payments or the Carte Bleu debit card for euro payments from France. American Express is welcomed in Canada, but is not yet a popular consumer card outside of North America.