The Mystery of International Payment Fees For Importers


This article is dedicated to importers who regularly settle cross-border payments to their suppliers as part of their operations.

Cross-border payments can be very expensive since they involve multiple banks, “hidden fees” and ultimately result in short payments towards your beneficiary supplier’s account, creating misunderstanding and conflict at times.


Currenxie would like to shed some light into the traditional cross-border payment process, to show you how does your money move after you execute a payment and where you and your supplier lose some of this money on 3 different fees, namely:

- Remittance fee

- Correspondent fee

- Receiving fee


Let’s walk through this process using a concrete example :

Suppose you are an importer of F&B based in Hong Kong and you need to make a payment of EUR 1,000 to your supplier back in Italy.
 

1. Remittance fee :

Once you instruct your bank, “BANK A” in Hong Kong to execute a cross-border payment, they will charge you a fixed Remittance Fee to perform the operation. On average, across HK Banks it is around HK$115 per transaction if done online. More, if at a branch.

After this, you would expect the bank to execute it and have the funds reach your supplier directly, right ? Well, unfortunately this is not the case, and here is where it gets a bit complicated.


2. Correspondent fee :

“BANK A” in Hong Kong will not directly remit the Euros to your supplier account.

Instead, it will use an intermediate bank, also known as a correspondent bank, “BANK B”, located somewhere in Europe to clear your payment of EUR 1,000.

Bank B will simply receive the instruction you provided to Bank A, deduct a Correspondent Fee to perform the operation, and move along the money towards your beneficiary account.

 

Why involve the intermediate Bank B at all?

Each country has its own payment or clearing system, and typically only banks regulated and licensed in the specific country have access to it.  

For this reason, banks all over the world maintain correspondent relationships with each other in order to facilitate the settlement of foreign currency. The Eurozone as a whole, effectively, constitutes one distinct clearing system.

Correspondent fees can range greatly from HK$250 to HK$450 and you will likely not know BANK B’s correspondent bank fee in advance. Moreover, if your own bank and your supplier bank, are regional banks, the process is further extended by two national banks resulting in extra fees involved. (See picture below)

As an importer, you will most likely be asked by your supplier to take charge of all the Correspondent Fees involved (online payment option “OUR”). Alternatively, you may choose to have the supplier absorb these fees, and your payment of EUR 1,000 could easily be eroded down to around EUR 950 before it reaches your supplier’s bank (online payment option “SHA”). This is not exactly the optimal way of fostering good relations with your supplier (s). In addition, if you do choose to pay for these correspondent bank fees, the remitting bank will often mark it up with a multiplier, e.g. 2X.


3. Receiving fee

Finally, once the payment reaches your supplier bank, “BANK C”, the latter will charge a Receiving Fee on that amount before crediting the supplier account. This fee varies depending on the specific country and bank involved but on average it is around EUR 13. Some banks will also apply an extra 0.10% commission on the nominal amount.

 

CONCLUSIONS

As a result of these 3 fees, in order to make a single small payment of EUR 1,000, the two parties together could have sustained a total commission of HK572 or EUR 70 for the transaction.
 

REMITTANCE FEE: HK$ 115

CORRESPONDENT FEE: HK$ 350

RECEIVING FEE: HK$ 107


TOTAL FEE: HK$ 572 = EUR 70 per transaction = 7% of EUR 1,000.


Currenxie offers a great alternative for importers to the traditional correspondent banking system.
In many countries, our technology allows us to bypass the TT fees, minimise or even eliminate the receiving fee, access a far better exchange rate and guarantee delivery of the exact amount to your beneficiary account as early as the same date of your payment.
 

Contact our FX specialists at sales@currenxie.com to learn how we can save you money on your payment requirements, without any additional cost involved.