EXPORTING ESSENTIALS: SELLING PRODUCTS AND SERVICES TO THE WORLD SUCCESSFULLY (2014)
Chapter 11. Getting Paid
Terms, Conditions, and Other Financing Options, Including Mobile Payments
Ex-Im Bank approved $35.8 billion in total authorizations in FY 2012—an all-time Ex-Im record. This total includes more than $6.1 billion directly supporting small-business export sales—also an Ex-Im record. Ex-Im Bank’s total authorizations are supporting an estimated $50 billion in U.S. export sales and approximately 255,000 American jobs in communities across the country.
The most important thing to negotiate before closing on an export sale is how payment will be made. In this chapter, I outline several strategies so that you can get paid in full and on time while minimizing risks. I also offer a brief overview of other nontraditional ways to finance an export transaction, should you find yourself unable to work out a standard method of payment.
Traditional Payment Methods
Let’s talk about two types of customers. The first is the distributor, overseas agent, wholesaler, or retailer—the big-volume purchasers—who will use the more traditional payment methods I am going to talk about in this section. The other type of customer is your Everyday Joe—the overseas end user—who buys your product from an e-commerce site or mobile device or through an app, which I will explain in greater detail later.
Let’s start with the large-volume customer. To make a point fast, I want to share an experience I had when trying to establish a payment method with a new customer. It went like this.
In an early stage of my business, I had been communicating with a customer in Japan for several weeks. His company was large and established and had a solid reputation in the food industry. He was interested in our line of cookies and he placed a $21,000 order.
I responded to his inquiries with a pro forma invoice showing all the pertinent data. In addition, I stated that payment was to be made by a confirmed irrevocable letter of credit2 (L/C) opened in favor of AB Cookie Kingdom Company (real name withheld for confidentiality reasons) through JP Morgan Chase. A few days later, the company gave the go-ahead to start producing the order. I assumed that it had accepted and approved our pro forma invoice and was about to open the L/C as requested.
A few more days went by.
I scheduled the production of the order. I faxed (that’s how we communicated back then!) the company again with the production details and an inquiry as to when I would see a copy of the L/C.
No response. More days went by. Finally, I started to wonder about the customer. I sent another fax asking him exactly what was causing the delay on the L/C. The company finally replied that it had opened the L/C a week ago and that I should be receiving it any day. I phoned the bank and talked to a key contact in the international division. I asked that it keep a special lookout for an L/C coming in from Tokyo.
Still more days went by. The order was produced. The manufacturer invoiced me immediately. The balance was due in full thirty days from the invoice date.
My contact at the bank called me up and reported that he had received an L/C from AB Cookie Kingdom Company with the account number at the top. The bank couldn’t understand a word of it, though. It was in Japanese. Note: This had happened to us more than once. We had a similar situation with a customer in Germany on a smaller transaction amount, so pay attention to the lesson we learned the hard way to ensure you don’t make the same mistake!
I faxed my customer and asked that the company forward an English-language copy of the L/C so we could make sure we were complying with the terms and conditions.
The customer faxed us another copy of the L/C in Japanese. The inexplicable confusion persisted for several weeks. After we finally received the L/C in English, we found that a condition had been included in the text, stating that the shipper could not consolidate our product with other products to make up a full container-load. This left us with a wide-open payment risk, since shipping companies don’t want to sail with a half-empty cargo hold, and our chances of meeting this condition were slim.
We faxed the customer again and asked him to amend the L/C (costing us money, I might add). The company responded by saying that we had instructed it on what to do and it had done that. We tried to tell the people there nicely that they had erred by including the clause prohibiting consolidated shipments.
More time went by. Our manufacturer was calling repeatedly and asking us when we were going to release the cargo. We didn’t want to release it without secured payment from the customer.
The customer finally faxed again and requested that we ship “open account,” whereby payment is not required until the goods are manufactured and delivered. By then, we were exhausted and desperate (a position you never want to put yourself in!) because we had produced goods that were sitting in a plant waiting to be released—and overwhelmed with frustration at having spent several weeks trying to accommodate our customer with a payment method when what was wanted all along was an open-account status.
We shipped open account. You should most emphatically not do that. Why? Many months later, and even then only with the help of the Embassy of the United States in Tokyo, we collected payment.
I learned a great deal from this transaction. Agree on the terms of payment in advance, and never ever sell on open account to a brand new customer. No ifs, ands, or buts. Just don’t.
While reading the above account, you probably realized early on that I wasn’t dealing with a customer. I was dealing with a noncustomer pretending to be a customer. This story is fortunately not typical, but it does highlight what can go wrong in setting up terms and conditions for an export sale. I caution you to beware of overseas contacts who:
· Fall off the face of the earth for long periods of time. A good customer communicates often and conscientiously. If a customer doesn’t or can’t communicate in an honest and responsible manner, he is not a customer.
· Ignore instructions. Get approval and acceptance of your terms and conditions in the form of a signature from a top executive—preferably the owner—of the company with which you are about to do business. If she’s reputable, she’ll be willing to be held accountable for the terms of the sale.
· Force you to become lax on your terms and conditions. A customer who pretends to be a special case, for some contrived and dubious reason, isn’t. Don’t fall for it.
· Slip in new terms or information at the latest point in the negotiations without advance discussion. This is, quite bluntly, the tactic of a con artist. Steer clear.
· Make you feel desperate (as the Tokyo customer had done with us) or as if you have lost control of your own business. Let this customer go with a clear conscience. It’s better to find one good customer than a hundred bad ones.
These characteristics define what a customer should not be. But once you have found a good customer and have worked your way through the pro forma phase, you can arrange a form of payment that is satisfactory to both parties. In the following section, I will discuss the most common methods of export financing: payment in advance, payment by L/C, and the risky open account.
Choosing a Payment Method—Factors to Consider
Many circumstances and priorities will influence your choice of payment method. A lot will depend on how much you know about financing a sale and how willing your customer is to accept your terms and conditions. Other factors include:
· Your cash flow needs
· Your relationship with your customer
· The economic conditions in the country to which you are exporting
· Interest rates and currency adjustment factors
· The type of product
· Your customer’s creditworthiness
· The terms your competitors are offering
· Your supplier’s demands
· The urgency of the transaction and whether you are under time constraints
Whatever terms of payment you negotiate, you must always (1) make sure they are understood by all parties and (2) have your customer sign a document that indicates acceptance, such as the pro forma invoice that I talked about earlier. This prevents some unpleasant surprises later on and reduces your shipment liability exposure.
Payment in Advance
Payment in advance is obviously the best of all payment methods since you can prevent possible collection problems and you have immediate use of the money. I use the advance payment method when I know absolutely nothing about the customer, when the speed of handling will make or break the sale, and when the transaction is less than $5,000. The only difficult part of this financing method is actually making it happen.
When your customer agrees to this arrangement, he accepts the full risk of the financial transfer. If he does accept it, ask him to make a wire transfer from his bank account to yours or issue a certified check made payable to you in US dollars, preferably sent by courier. It’s reasonable to ask for half of the total sale in advance, with the balance to be paid thirty days from the bill-of-lading date. This reduces your customer’s risk, thus helping to maintain goodwill. Make sure, though, that the advance amount covers your out-of-pocket costs.
Note Never accept cash for a high-value transaction. This poses a risk and could send a red flag to export regulatory officials.
Tip To get cash in advance, you must ask. Let’s say a customer in Yugoslavia wants to import a thousand of your flash drives. So, you prepare a detailed pricing proposal showing all costs involved. Within the proposal you state in bold letters: “Method of Payment: Wire transfer in advance for full amount of order and payable in US dollars.” Your customer wire transfers the full cost of the transaction plus your profits, paying a small wire transfer fee. In effect, you not only fronted the funding on the production of goods but you also built in a healthy profit margin to use for funding future growth.
Letters of Credit—Security with Flexibility
After payment in advance, securing payment with a letter of credit (L/C) is the next-best option. It’s a more expensive and complicated arrangement, but it’s worth it. An L/C is a commercial document issued by a bank at your customer’s request in your favor and is based on the seller’s instructions outlining desired terms and conditions. It guarantees you’ll get paid, as long as the terms stated in it are fulfilled.
Tip To supplement this chapter (and expand your export resource data bank at the same time), I recommend that you contact a few banks, beginning with your own, and see if it will e-mail you its international banking directory at no charge. Nearly every large bank publishes one. It’s usually a slim volume but as good as a fat encyclopedia for showing you every imaginable way to finance an export sale. Such a directory can be very useful for reference should your customer ask you a technical question about how her financing will work.
The Letter of Credit Process
There are four participants in an L/C transaction—two businesspeople and two banks:
1. The buyer: That’s your customer. He opens the L/C.
2. The opening bank: The bank normally issues the L/C, so it is sometimes referred to as the “issuing bank.” It assumes responsibility for the payment on behalf of the buyer. The opening bank can contact a corresponding bank near the seller in the United States to advise it on the opening of the L/C. If the L/C is confirmed, the US correspondent bank can confirm and pay on behalf of the buyer provided exact documents required for the L/C are provided and match up.
3. The paying bank: This is the bank under which the drafts or bills of exchange are drawn under the credit.
4. The seller: That’s you—the global marketer, exporter, shipper, beneficiary—to whom the credit is issued.
To summarize the process: Once you and your customer agree on payment by L/C, it is the customer’s responsibility to take your pro forma invoice to her bank or to complete the process of setting up the L/C online, with the invoice attached to the application, and opening the L/C in your favor. Once the opening bank has all the appropriate information from the customer, it advises you, the seller, that the L/C has been opened. Oftentimes this will be done by wire to the paying bank. Your bank then forwards that information to you. The L/C is final and subject to correction only for errors in transmission.
Although we live in an era when rapid data transmission by fax or e-mail has become the norm for business communications, some opening banks still prefer to wire advice of an opened L/C and then notify you by telephone (if you have a good international banking officer), e-mail, or snail mail, of its arrival. When you are expecting a an L/C to be opened in your favor, it’s prudent to call your bank to notify it to be on the lookout for the L/C or to check the status of it. However the information gets into your hands, review it immediately by checking the terms and conditions against your pro forma invoice.
It is not unusual to find differences between the L/C and the pro forma invoice, such as incorrect product descriptions or reference numbers or an impossibly early shipment date. Once you have confirmed that your invoice is correct, you can try to preempt some of these errors by e-mailing the buyer what is called an L/C template (see http://www.key.com/pdf/sampleloc.pdf) to show him what the completed version should look like. You may find that he ignores it and opens the L/C in the standard format he uses. If that happens and you notice substantive discrepancies, bring them to your bank officer’s attention at once. If you find that you cannot make adjustments to accommodate the customer, you must request an amendment to the L/C. This, unfortunately, costs money. Your bank officer can request that the opening bank contact your customer about the amendment or you can bypass the banks and contact your customer directly. Bypassing the bank will save your customer the charges for the amendment but doesn’t always provide the safety you still need to maintain the security of the transaction.
If you do communicate directly with your customer, you will need him to acknowledge the discrepancy and state whether or not he will take action to modify the L/C. Buyers generally accomplish this by alerting their bank to the discrepancy when the documents are presented by the bank for approval and then formally waiving that discrepancy. If the customer cannot be relied upon to do this, you get stuck! So always consult with your banker before attempting any informal deals like this.
Accuracy in all details of your L/C is critically important. One of the most exasperating delays I’ve ever experienced was caused by a discrepancy our bank found between our company name and address on the L/C that I had just presented. It looked like this:
· GLOBAL TRADESOURCE LTD
· 6807 N LAKEWOOD, UNIT LL
· CHICAGO, ILLINOIS 60626
· UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
On our commercial invoice, we had given our address as follows:
· Global TradeSource, Ltd.
· 6807 N. Lakewood, Suite LL
· Chicago, IL 60626
· United States of America
Would you believe that, from the bank’s standpoint, the differences in upper/lower letters, spacing and punctuation were sufficient to indicate a different beneficiary altogether? The bank said it could not present our documents unless we corrected the errors and made everything exactly the same as in the L/C. What choice did we have? We fixed it. We even went so far as to put everything in capitals the way the issuing bank had. Pay attention to the details so nothing will stand in the way of your getting paid!
This synopsis ought to give you some idea of the typical steps taken—and the typical delays—in the L/C process. Don’t be surprised at what seems like an unreasonably long turnaround time.
Types of Letters of Credit
There are a number of different types of L/C; two are important enough to distinguish up-front and the others offer more payment flexibility.
Irrevocable Letter of Credit
An irrevocable L/C is a commercial document that the customer requests a bank to issue in your favor. Once issued, it cannot be modified without both parties’ consent. In this case, “irrevocable” means that the bank must pay you even if your customer defaults, provided the documents presented are “clean.” Clean documents are in complete compliance with the language of the L/C and are presented to the bank prior to the expiration date. It’s the most secure method of payment and one that I suggest you use as often as possible. You can also request that the L/C be confirmed by any US office of the issuing bank prior to submission. This arrangement provides the greatest degree of protection because the bank must pay you even if your customer’s bank defaults. If the L/C is unconfirmed, the US bank must wait until it receives funds from the foreign bank before it will credit your account.
Banks usually charge about one-eighth of 1 percent (based on the bank’s policy and the relationship between the exporter and the bank) of the total transaction cost as a processing fee. Although many exporters complain about this expense, I am convinced that the payment security this document offers far outweighs the negligible fee.
Revocable Letter of Credit
A revocable L/C is a commercial document that your customer requests a bank to issue in your favor that can be modified without both parties’ consent at any given point in time. Once this L/C has been issued, you have the following assurances as the beneficiary: the bank can assure you that, yes, your customer has arranged for the bank to pay you such an amount, and, yes, your customer is known, respected, and has been banking with the bank for decades. Unfortunately, you cannot rely on this type of L/C since the bank is under no obligation to cover it if your customer defaults. You may as well just run a credit check on the customer and ship using an open account. It’s almost the same risk.
A letter of credit may be modified or restricted in a variety of ways. The most common arrangements are outlined briefly here. If you get stuck negotiating payment terms with your customer, check this section to see if you can find a mutually agreeable option. If you still can’t resolve the matter, turn to your international banking advisor for guidance—that’s what she’s there for. Be creative and cooperative in investigating payment arrangements that will accommodate your customer, but always make sure you end up with a secure and timely payment.
You may extend varying payment terms within your L/C, ranging from a demand for payment on sight to an allowance of up to 180 days before payment is due. Let’s look at each term.
The time required to receive funds under an L/C drawing depends on the terms and the location of the paying bank. A sight draft is a payment instrument that requires your customer to pay the amount in full upon receipt of the documents—that is, “on sight”—before title to the goods can be transferred to him. A sight draft is not guaranteed by a bank, so it is vital to get payment before releasing cargo. This payment method is of obvious advantage to you.
If an L/C calls for a time draft, it is handled by a bank somewhat like a sight draft at the time payment is due; however, a time draft allows your customer some time, usually 30, 60, 90, or even up to 180 days, to pay the amount in full after title to the goods is transferred to her. Customers generally prefer this payment method, but obviously it can compromise your cash flow.
Once a time draft has been accepted by a bank, it becomes a “banker’s acceptance.” Since this acceptance is now the bank’s liability, it holds payment in safekeeping until maturity and then pays you automatically. Banker’s acceptances can also be used to obtain financing by selling the acceptance to the bank at a discount, although this practice is fairly rare.
Special Types and Uses of Letters of Credit
These are some specialized L/Cs that might gain you additional flexibility and security in financing your export transactions:
1. Transferable L/Cs: These L/Cs permit you to transfer your rights in part or in full to another party. They are typically used when the original beneficiary (you) acts as a middleman between the supplier of the merchandise and the buyer. The supplier is thus assured of payment for the goods even though it is not dealing directly with your customer. Keep in mind that no credit line is needed here since you are using your L/C as collateral. Once you transfer an L/C, there will be a nominal transaction fee involved.
2. Assignment of proceeds: This is very similar to a transferable L/C. The difference is that whether or not an L/C is issued in transferable form, you may request the paying bank to pay the proceeds guaranteed under the letter of credit to a third party. Again, no credit line is needed in this transaction, but you will be charged a nominal transaction fee. The assignment of proceeds, on the other hand, has no monetary value to the third-party assignee until the proceeds (the actual payment by the bank) become available. Therefore, if you neglect to ship merchandise as ordered or fail to submit proper documentation, no payment will be made to the assignee even if he can present the letter of assignment.
3. Revolving L/Cs: If you have a customer who intends to give you ongoing business, you may wish to open a revolving letter of credit. You can ask your banker for this, but you may not get it. Banks need to book the entire transaction amount, and for a revolving account, they have no idea what that amount will be. If you are fortunate to be extended this lenient credit arrangement, the amount of the L/C is automatically reinstated after a drawing of funds or after a specified period of time. The purpose of a revolving L/C is to limit shipments of merchandise, and consequently drawings under the L/C, to limited quantities within a certain period of time. A revolving L/C has the effect of renewing the original set of payment terms and conditions so you don’t have to renegotiate each time. Revolving letters of credit are set up differently depending on the particular requirements of each transaction, so always consult with your banker.
4. Back-to-back L/Cs: This setup is used fairly often by trading houses or middlemen that do not have the funds necessary to purchase the merchandise or the capital resources needed to obtain an unsecured loan from the bank. Its purpose is to extend indirectly the commitment of the issuing bank beyond the beneficiary to another party, usually the supplier of the merchandise. A back-to-back L/C is quite different from a transferable L/C or an assignment of proceeds in that it is an entirely separate transaction from the original or the master L/C. All parties involved must therefore rely on the successful completion of the original letter of credit. Since this is a more complex form of credit, a consultation with your banker is suggested.
5. Standby L/Cs: These serve as assurance that your customer will fulfill her obligations under a contract. In other words, you draw funds under the standby L/C only when your customer fails to meet his obligations. This type of L/C is generally used to repay money borrowed or advanced. It often works well to assure payment of invoices for sales made on open account.
Special Payment Structures
Even though I personally have never had occasion to use any of these special payment structures for an L/C, it is important to let you know that they’re available. Consult your banker to find out how they might work for you and your customer.
· “Red clause”: Under a red-clause L/C, you are able to obtain advances against the credit in order to purchase and process merchandise. The red clause within the letter of credit outlines a specific payment arrangement over a specific period of time.
· Installment payments: Under an installment L/C, you can draw a portion of the credited amount by presenting a sight draft, accompanied by shipping documents and a promissory note for the full credited amount.
· Progress payments: A progress-payment L/C allows for you to draw funds against the L/C for amounts proportionate to the progress being made in the production of goods. Proof of progress can be in the form of an inspection certificate issued by you, your customer, or an independent party. This type of L/C is usually used to finance large, long-term projects, such as an economic and real estate development or sales of costly goods, such as large machinery. The balance of the credit becomes available to you once compliance with the terms of the L/C is complete.
· Advance payments: This arrangement for the L/C allows for the exporter to receive funds in advance that might be necessary to purchase or process merchandise for the buyer.
· Deferred payments: This arrangement calls for sight drafts specifying that the draft is payable at a later date.
· Discounted payments: This structure allows you to boost profits for your business with an L/C while satisfying your customer’s payment preference. (I am elaborating on this method here because although it is rarely known or practiced, it can be an effective cash flow accelerator for your business.) You can elect to receive payment at sight provided the provisions of the letter of credit are met against an L/C to boost cash receivables and profits. However, this method hurts your customer’s pocketbook because he has not, at this point, had a chance to sell the goods you just sold to him. As such, it can be a fairly big cash outlay for him. Alternatively, you can elect to receive a deferred payment (as previously noted), say after 180 days, to allow your buyer a grace period for payment. In that case, there’s no boost to your profits or bank account until six months have passed, but your customer will be happy that you’ve given him more time.
There is another option in the way of discounted payments that can benefit both the seller and buyer. In this arrangement, once the bank that opens the L/C has accepted the documents and drafts you present, it may discount the amount it owes you and pay you, the beneficiary of the L/C, in advance of the maturity date (a fixed or determinable future date) provided that you indicate that you want this to be done in the agreement. What that means is this: you can allow your customer 180 days after the sight of the original bill of lading to pay her bank, but you collect the money involved in the transaction immediately.
The interest rate on discounted payments for early payment varies from anywhere between 6 and 18 percent of the total transaction bill. It is your responsibility as the seller to absorb it, but it is generally based on the annual rate of interest on a loan, the risk of the country in which the bank opening the L/C is located, and the reputation of the bank. The end result is that you get cash fast from the export sale and your customer gets the 180 days she needs to pay.
· Mixed drawings: Sight and time drafts may be specified under the same L/C. For example, the L/C may call for payment of 50 percent at sight, 25 percent sixty days thereafter, and 25 percent ninety from then. The bank oversees and pays the procedural duties when they are due.
The Worst Method of Export Financing: Open Account
An open account transaction means that payment is not required until the goods are manufactured and delivered. This method of payment is fine if your customer is easily accessible. However, in the international business arena, where your customer can be fifteen thousand miles away, this method of payment cannot be used safely unless you are 100 percent certain that the buyer is creditworthy, and unless the country of destination is politically and economically stable. Otherwise, it’s a huge risk to the seller (as I pointed out earlier with my Tokyo noncustomer). This is why I keep pushing for the L/C method. Or, at the very least, back up your open account terms with a standby L/C. You might also consider export-receivable insurance, which costs about the same as opening an L/C—about 1 percent of the transaction—but gives you the option of offering your customer open-account terms and retaining some protection. Your banker can assist you here.
But even the most compelling reasons for granting an open account are shortsighted at best. Many books on international sales propound the doctrine that export wannabes should always consider shipping on an open account basis, especially when you’re first starting out and a major recognized company is interested in purchasing your products. For example, let’s say an international conglomerate called Big Cheese LLC e-mails you a request for $25,000 worth of bicycle parts to be shipped immediately by air. How could a small shop like you, Little Cheese Export Enterprises, resist the chance to win an account like Big Cheese LLC? But we’ve all heard stories of what can happen to small, growing suppliers who deal with the big players. Conglomerates like our hypothetical Big Cheese LLC have been known to give high-volume business to small firms, enabling them to grow like mad. Then, virtually overnight, they switch vendors—and poof! Poor Little Cheese Export Enterprises bites the dust. It wouldn’t be only the loss of the account that would do your company in but the delayed payment on the last order. In fact, some of my own worst payment experiences have been with huge companies that thought they were entitled to pay whenever their accounting department decided they should. I’d find myself waiting two months, three, six. Eventually they’d pay up, but was it worth it? Only if I had a good cash flow and a supplier that was willing to work with me. If you find yourself in circumstances in which you can afford to sweat out big-ticket deficits and you feel certain that somewhere down the line you’ll get your money, then go ahead. But how many small-business owners—or beginning exporters—can comfortably operate this way? Take stock of your own situation and proceed accordingly.
If you find yourself in a position where none of these arrangements are possible and you cannot close a sale, you might explore a few of the following financing alternatives. Keep in mind that each industry has its own special government financing programs, so check with your industry associations at both the local and national level to see what they have to offer.
Noteworthy Export Noncash Payment Considerations
Consider the following additional ways to finance an export deal when other means are unavailable:
· Countertrade: In countertrade transactions, which involves trading in goods and services as opposed to money, cash does not change hands. Some business owners elect to use this payment method when there is a shortage of hard currency, surplus activity, lack of experience, or lack of credit. The benefits include but are not limited to: entering into difficult markets, increasing sales, overcoming credit problems, and gaining a competitive advantage. The downside is that it can be time-consuming and complex to negotiate.
· Bartering (a type of countertrade): This involves a direct exchange between two parties of goods or services that have an equivalent value without using a cash transaction. In simple terms: it’s a swap of one product for another product without the use of any money. The parties involved still must value the goods or services exchanged in the transaction as if they were cash. Doing so will be necessary for tax and customs purposes, so you need to be sure to comply with governmental requirements and accurately complete and file appropriate forms. Barter houses are often called on to assist companies of all sizes to convert what they have into what they need without any cash changing hands (conduct a web search to find ones that specialize in your industry and in a particular overseas market). Barter houses provide information and find potential buyers for goods received. They are particularly useful to the small exporter.
· Consignment: This involves an exporter (the seller) selling to a consignee (customer #1) but maintaining ownership of the goods and the consignee only taking possession of the goods in a foreign country. The consignee markets the goods and, when she makes a sale, the title transfers simultaneously from the exporter to customer #1 and customer #2 (the consignee’s customer). It’s only when the goods are sold—meaning that customer #2 pays customer #1, who in turn, pays the exporter—that the exporter gets paid. The exporter has the main role and is responsible for getting the product to the consignee. Consult with your international attorney to discuss the best terms and conditions for this type of contract arrangement for export sales.
Caution Transacting business in multiple currencies spanning several countries might be beneficial to a big operation interested in hedging against currency fluctuations, but for a small business, if not managed well, it can hurt the bottom line. It’s best to negotiate terms in your own country’s currency (US dollars, for example). This transfers the risk to the other party—the customer.
Regardless of payment method, it’s important to try to keep the international payment process simple.
Export Financing Assistance
There are several federal agencies that offer financial assistance to exporters. These are just a few of the programs and types of assistance that are available to small businesses. Contact your bank to see if it is approved to underwrite any of these programs.
· Small Business Investment Companies: (http://www.sba.gov/content/sbic-program). These privately owned companies provide financing, equity capital, and long-term loans to small businesses.
· International Trade Loan Program: (http://www.sba.gov/content/international-trade-loan). This program offers loan financing of up to $5 million for fixed assets and working capital for small businesses in a position to either expand existing export markets or develop new markets. These loans are also available if your small business has been adversely affected by import competition and you can demonstrate that the loan proceeds will improve your global-competitive position.
· Export Working Capital Program: (http://www.sba.gov/content/export-working-capital-program). This program provides advances up to $5 million to fund export transactions. You can use the loan proceeds to finance suppliers, for work in process, or for production of export goods and services.
· Export Express Loan Program: (http://www.sba.gov/content/export-express-program). Considered the simplest export loan program, SBA Export Express offers financing up to $500,000, either as a term loan or a revolving line of credit. To qualify, you must have operated your business for at least twelve months (there are exceptions, so be sure to ask) and must demonstrate that the loan proceeds will be used to support export activity. You can use the loan proceeds to finance export orders, expand your production facility, purchase equipment, participate in overseas trade shows, or translate marketing material for foreign markets.
· 7(a) Regular Business Loan Program: (http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/small-business-loans/sba-loan-programs/7a-loan-program): The Small Business Administration offers this long-term loan with a guarantee for small businesses that might not have been able to secure funding through normal lending channels.
· Foreign Agricultural Service: (http://www.fas.usda.gov/agx/financing/financing.asp. Run by the US Department of Agriculture, this service provides financial support to food exporters. Check with your state or regional department.
· Overseas Private Investment Corporation: (http://www.opic.gov/). OPIC educates small businesses about the benefits of expanding into developing markets and offers a number of products (political risk insurance, for example) and services to address their specific needs. OPIC’s Small Business Center offers qualified small businesses with annual revenues less than $35 million the opportunity to utilize the organization’s streamlined loan approval process.
· Minority Business Development Agency: (http://www.mbda.gov/). MBDA operates more than forty business centers throughout the United States. These organizations, in turn, provide business consulting, procurement matching, and financial assistance (relative to exporting) to minority-owned firms.
Tip Consult the Trade Finance Guide: A Quick Reference for U.S. Exporters (http://export.gov/TradeFinanceGuide/) on MBDA’s site. It’s very useful.
· United States Trade and Development Agency: (http://www.ustda.gov/). USTDA links US businesses to export opportunities by funding project planning activities, pilot projects, and reverse trade missions. USTDA is an independent US government foreign assistance agency that is funded by Congress.
Export-Import Bank of the United States
The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank; http://www.exim.gov/smallbusiness/) is responsible for assisting the export financing of US goods and services through a variety of loan guarantees and insurance programs. The goals of this agency are to offer superior service and to make a difference by providing exporters with needed support and providing taxpayers with enhanced value. The bank also assists exporters by serving as a liaison between US and foreign banks.
Ex-Im Bank’s top five eligibility requirements for small business exporters to receive a loan are that they:
· Be located in the United States
· Have at least one year of operating history along with a positive net worth
· Have services that are performed by US-based employees
· Ship products from the United States to a foreign buyer
· Export products with more than 50 percent US-made content based on all direct and indirect costs
The following list describes just a few of the many programs and products offered by the Ex-Im Bank to exporters. Be sure to inquire further.
· Working Capital Guarantee: (http://www.exim.gov/smallbusiness/smallbusprod/Working-Capital-Guarantee.cfm). This is a 90 percent loan-backing guarantee offered to commercial lenders to facilitate small exporting businesses securing the crucial working capital they need to fund their export activities.
· Global Credit Express: (http://www.exim.gov/products/global-credit-express.cfm). This program delivers short-term working-capital loans directly to creditworthy small-business exporters. It adds liquidity to the US small-business export market by financing the business of exporting rather than specific export transactions.
· Letter of Interest: (http://www.exim.gov/tools/onlineservices/letterofinterest/). This letter states Ex-Im Bank’s willingness to consider financing for an export transaction and serves to help small businesses secure financing and make the online application process fast, simple, affordable, and secure prior to export.
· Export Credit Insurance: (http://www.exim.gov/products/exportcreditinsurance/): This credit insurance can be purchased from Ex-Im Bank, either through an insurance broker or directly from the bank, to reduce foreign risk. It offers a variety of policies tailored to cover particular risks and situations; for example, the failure of an overseas customer to pay his credit obligation and competitive payment terms.
· Small Business Insurance: (http://www.exim.gov/products/exportcreditinsurance/smallbusinessinsurance/). This short-term insurance policy assumes 95 percent of the commercial risk and 100 percent of the political risk involved in extending credit to your overseas customer. Also available are the Umbrella Policy, the Short-Term Single Buyer Policy, and Medium-Term Insurance. Each policy has different requirements, so it is best to get the most updated information and determine how it applies to your export business.
· Trade Credit Insurance: (http://www.exim.gov/smallbusiness/moreinfo/Trade-Credit-Insurance.cfm). This policy “specifically covers payment for products or services that are delivered/rendered on open terms to approved buyers. The insurable loss events are insolvency/bankruptcy of the buyer or slow payment. A claim is filed when either of these events occur,”3 says David Barrett, a sales agent for Euler Hermes North America, a leading provider of trade-related insurance solutions.
· Working Capital Loans and Guarantees: (http://www.exim.gov/smallbusiness/moreinfo/Working-Capital-Loans-and-Guarantees.cfm). These loans and guarantees of commercial financing are available to overseas buyers of US capital goods and related services. They offer a low interest rate, cover up to 85 percent of the export value, and generally give repayment terms of one year or more. In addition, they provide repayment protection to creditworthy buyers of US capital goods and related services for private-sector loans.
Since it is impossible to list all the programs offered by Ex-Im Bank, I suggest calling the regional export finance center closest to you (http://www.exim.gov/about/contact/index.cfm) or the Small Business Group (http://www.exim.gov/about/contact/small-business-group.cfm). Its purpose is to help expand local support to small businesses. Use it!
Tip Escrow services allow both exporters and importers to protect a transaction by placing funds in the hands of a trusted third party until a specified set of conditions is met. Shipments are tracked to ensure the seller shipped and the buyer received the merchandise. This can be a beneficial method of payment on international trade transactions. Escrow.com (https://www.escrow.com/why-escrowcom/security.aspx), for example, offers this type of service.
Online Payment Methods: E-Commerce and M-Commerce (Mobile Commerce)
We’ve already talked about payment options to use with large-volume customers; now let’s look at the ones to use for Everyday Joe who only buys online. How will you collect money from him, especially if, for instance, he lives in Brazil? It depends. From this point on, proceed cautiously because no online payment—whether through a Web site, mobile device, or mobile app—will work effectively unless the country you’re dealing with accepts it! It’s vital to keep that at the top of your mind along with everything else you are about to read. It’s also important to take consumers’ online preferences into consideration before integrating a payment plan into your e-commerce and m-commerce platforms.
Note By the time you read this, many banks will have launched a mobile payment service4 that could potentially grow to rival those of credit card companies, especially if these payment methods receive financial institution backing. If these efforts are successful, it could challenge the business model for credit card companies such as Visa, American Express, and MasterCard, which rely on customers to use their branded credit cards for online payments. Watch closely for how this develops and how it might impact your business because the expanding digital payment arena, including wearable devices that make mobile payments, is just beginning to take off. We’re living in fast-changing, ultra-tech-savvy times.
Credit, Debit, Global Prepaid Cards, and Third-Party Providers
The majority of online payment is done with credit or debit cards, and a high penetration of people use PayPal in conjunction with their own banks. That said, payment methods still can vary from country to country. How do you know which countries accept which payment method? You can find out by doing the following:
1. Check with your international banker.
2. Inquire with someone who lives in the country with which you desire to transact business.
3. Conduct an online search using the keywords “Preferred online payment methods, ___________(country).” Your search entry might look like this: “Preferred online payment methods Norway.” As of March 2012, the results would show that 62 percent of online buyers in Norway prefer to make credit card payment, 14 percent prefer using invoices, 8 percent prefer PayPal, 7 percent go with online bank payment, and 3 percent prefer cash on delivery.5
4. Check CyberSource’s “Global Payment Options: Payment Methods in Select Countries” (https://www.cybersource.com/resources/collateral/Resource_Center/service_briefs/CYBS_Global_Payment_Services.pdf.
Most US companies offer credit card payment options online because they offer the capability to conduct business throughout the world. Among the credit cards accepted are American Express, VISA, Mastercard, and Discover. All of these work for online transactions, provided the banking system within the country accepts them and they are secure. Many credit card companies charge anywhere from a 1.95 to 3.5 percent service fee on the total transaction price. If a country does not accept a particular credit card, find a comparable service used by the country to fill in the gaps. The greater the global reach for a card, the easier it will be on you for collecting payments.
In addition, several credit card companies now offer country-specific credit cards and other payment services, made possible by special payment features that collect “regional” global payments. These include Maestro offered by Mastercard for use in multiple countries; Dankort offered by Visa in Denmark; Visa’s Carte Bleue used in France; Skrill, which facilitates global e-commerce; and debit cards for use in China, to name just a few.
Here is a list of the more popular and commonly used mobile payment methods used in this country:
· MasterCard PayPass: (https://www.paypass.com/). PayPass lets you accept everyday purchases quickly and safely through a MasterCard or Maestro-enabled card or device. Buyers can search worldwide for merchants—like you—who accept MasterCard PayPass. Note: Before implementing PayPass, check first with the card’s bank to see which countries accept it payment method.
· Visa payWave for Mobile: (https://developer.visa.com/paywavemobile). This is a mobile payment system available for Visa issuers, mobile network operators, mobile device manufacturers, and third-party wallet providers looking to develop proprietary applications. According to Visa Developers, PayWave “enables Visa cardholders to simply wave their card or mobile device in front of a contactless payment terminal to make a payment.”6 Buyers can make payments, including credit, debit, and prepaid products for both online and offline contactless transactions.
· Square: (https://squareup.com). This online service allows you to start accepting credit cards in a heartbeat at 2.75 percent per swipe. Small businesses can opt to set up a monthly plan for $275 a month (as of this writing). Once you sign up, Square mails you a free Square card reader.
· Clinkle: (http://www.clinkle.com). This new mobile payment start-up has developed a practical way to replace credit cards with smart phones. The founders have been hush-hush about what their start-up even does. Word on the street is that Clinkle lets you do phone-to-phone payments via ultrasound exchanged on the phone. This is branded as “Aerolink.” It’s a work in progress and should be ready by the time you read this.7
· PayAnywhere: (http://www.payanywhere.com). This credit card reader and free app lets people pay anywhere using Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, and debit cards. You can download it at the App Store, Google Play, and Blackberry App World. PayAnywhere was created by the multibillion-dollar credit-card-processing company North American Bancard, which has more than two decades of merchant-payment-processing experience. The processing fees are competitive: 2.69 percent per swiped transaction; however, for a keyed-in transaction where you type the credit card number, the rate shifts to 3.49 percent plus a $0.19 transaction fee. There is no monthly fee, minimum required, or cancellation fee. PayAnywhere is compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, most Android phones or tablets, and Blackberry smart phones, and the company offers 24/7 live customer support through a toll-free number.
· China UnionPay: (http://en.unionpay.com/). The leading banking-card association in the world, with more than 3.2 billion issued cards, the company now gives Chinese shoppers with UnionPay cards the option to make online purchases at the Web sites of participating Discover Merchants. What that means is that UnionPay cardholders will have a safe and secure way to make purchases online around the world. In addition, China UnionPay provides access to Discover’s services at all ATMs and electronic-payment merchants in Mainland China.
And there’s more. UnionPay recently partnered with PayPay to allow card members in China to use PayPal to shop online. That represents a phenomenal new opportunity for international retailers to sell to a large base of Chinese customers who, combined, hold 2.1 billion cards, according to a PayPal press release regarding the partnership.8
Debit cards, where accepted, can be used instead of cash when making purchases. In some cases, they can be assigned exclusively for use on the Internet. According to FIS, a global provider of banking and payments technologies, “debit cards have surpassed credit cards as the most popular form of electronic payment (by transaction volume).”9
Caution The development of debit cards, unlike credit cards, has generally been country specific, resulting in a number of different systems around the world. Be sure to check what type of payment system a country uses or prefers to use before establishing an online payment method. You’ll also want to consider the fees associated with every payment option.
Global Prepaid Cards
Inasmuch as U.S. banking credit cards are used widely, not all countries accept them. That is why global prepaid cards are increasingly important for global commerce and are quickly gaining popularity among the millennial generation (Generation Y). Global prepaid cards allow users to preload money and later make purchases and complete payments via American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa cards, ATM networks, private networks, and the Internet. For travelers, prepaid cards are a more secure alternative to the once-popular traveler's checks or large sums of cash.
Take Western Union (WU), a global payment service provider, for example. WU announced in July 2013 that it would work with the Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD) to create a cobranded prepaid payroll card in the United Arab Emirates.10 Almost all banks offer global prepaid cards, such as the GoPayment Prepaid Visa Card offered by Intuit and the Global Cash Card offered by Visa and MasterCard.
O2 mobile payment service, for example, works with VISA and MasterCard to provide UK consumers and businesses with specially tailored card payment options.11 Another UK service provider, EE, has partnered with MasterCard to launch its first mobile payment system, Cash on Tap. The system lets UK consumers pay for goods and services using their mobile phone via an app, which acts as a digital wallet.12 Watch for more of these country- and financial institution-specific developments in the future.
Payment-Processing Methods Offered by Third-Party Providers
We will look at the payment-processing methods offered by different third-party providers in this section. The companies’ methods will guide you through the payment implementation process for e-commerce and m-commerce transactions. (Some are specific to e-commerce and others require a mobile app, so be sure to double check on what they can and can’t do). Most charge a service fee ranging from zero to 2.9 percent, some tack on an additional per-transaction fee (thirty cents, for example), and others charge a monthly fee. Review their terms carefully.
Before you enter into an agreement with any company, find out which countries it services, the fees it charges on each transaction, how it handles disputes, what happens on charge-backs (the process where the cardholder’s issuing bank requests a reversal of charges on behalf of the cardholder), what verification system it uses to minimize fraudulent activities, and how to terminate a plan, if need be.
There are many ways to get paid via third-party m-commerce and e-commerce companies. A few payment options offered by companies are given in the following list. There is also some information on the lesser-known payment options. Before making a decision, check reviews and chat rooms about these payment services to learn what users are saying.
· ACH Payments: (http://www.achpaymentsolutions.com/). ACH payments are electronic transfers made from one account to another. ACH processing allows you to use the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network to collect payments. Many large banks offer these payments. Bank of America Merrill Lynch is one.13 PNC14 and Chase15 also offer them. Check with your bank.
· Amazon Payments (https://payments.amazon.com/): This service operates through your web browser, allowing other Amazon customers to e-mail you money and you to receive it using the accept-payment information in your Amazon.com account. On sales up to $2,999.99, fees range from 2.9 percent plus $0.30 per transaction or less. On transactions of $3,000.00–$9,999.99, fees drop to 2.5 percent plus $0.30 per transaction and so on. Volume discounts apply. Inquire.
Through Amazon WebPay (https://payments.amazon.com/help/Personal-Accounts/WebPay-FAQ), also offered on this site, you can also send, receive, and request money from other users through the Web site. Even if someone does not have an Amazon account, you can still receive money from them provided they register with Amazon Payments to send payment. There is no charge to use the service. Payments are funded by using a credit card. Fees apply for minimum-transfer amounts (bank account withdrawals, for example).
Using Amazon’s payment method could be advantageous for people who have already had positive experiences with the company.
· PayPal: (http://www.paypal.com). PayPal allows you to set up a merchant account, through which you can make an online payment to or receive money from any person with an e-mail address. You can use it via the Internet, a mobile device, or in store. The company charges a 2.9 percent transaction fee on the total sale amount plus a $0.30 fee per transaction. The international charge is 3.9 percent transaction fee plus a fixed fee based on the currency received.16 When you buy something, it is free of a service fee. Transferring money is free, too. PayPal’s big advantage is its reach—it is in 193 markets and deals with twenty-five currencies around the world. To appreciate its scope: the company processes almost 8 million payments every day.17
· Bill Me Later: (https://www.billmelater.com/index.xhtml). A PayPal service, Bill Me Later offers buyers the option of buying now and paying later. It is available as a method of payment at many online stores, and once added to your PayPal account, it can be used almost everywhere PayPal is accepted. It’s essentially a reusable credit line without the plastic. BML works well for larger-ticket items where providing financing for a certain period of time, such as six months, will enable a sale. Interest charges apply and accumulate at an APR of 19.99 percent starting from the date of purchase, a significant rate that is important to keep in mind when selling or buying using BML. PayPal tracks purchases and payments done with BML, and provides you an online statement showing all charges.
· CyberSource: (http://www.cybersource.com/). Offered by Visa, CyberSource is an online payment service that accepts many payment types preferred in local markets (including Bill Me Later and PayPal), transacts payments in more than 190 countries, and funds in twenty-one currencies. It can be integrated into most major commerce platforms with the help of a savvy tech programmer. In addition, it provides real-time tax calculation for sales originating worldwide so you can provide accurate totals for your customers at checkout. Costs (not listed on site) include set-up and implementation fees based on your specific billing requirements. A monthly usage fee will be charged based on either transaction or revenue volumes.
· Samurai by FeeFighters: (https://feefighters.com/samurai). Samurai is debuting as a gateway for online merchants to accept payments. Samurai claims, “No signup, 30 seconds, 19 lines of code” and you are up and running. Speed matters in the online world! According to Samurai, no credit card is needed for this service, which means they allow any business to send any transaction to any processor, with no lock in. Fees on a gateway and merchant account run 2.3 percent per transaction plus a $0.30 fee or $25.00 a month.
Samurai is a newcomer to the field of online payments. Its beauty is the “ability for transactions to be sent to multiple merchant accounts and [the company] will automatically send international and small ticket transactions to the cheapest processor.”18
· Dwolla: (https://www.dwolla.com/). This payment network carries no percentage fees on transactions and charges $0.25 fee. The service is free for transactions of $10.00 or less. Dwolla allows any business to send, request, and accept money. The company’s mission: “Allow anyone [or anything] connected to the internet to move money quickly, safely & at the lowest cost possible.”19 If this is true, it’s worth a look.
· Intuit Payment Network: (https://ipn.intuit.com). From the makers of QuickBooks, Intuit Payment Network allows users to send and receive payments over the Internet. As the payer, it’s free to send money and your financial information is never shared. The catch? The receiver’s bank shells out $0.50 per transaction. One advantage of IPN is that QuickBook users can include a payment link on invoices so customers can pay conveniently online. The site also provides the option to add pay buttons with fixed or variable amounts on your existing web or e-commerce site. And since it is integrated with QuickBooks, if you are already a QuickBooks client, the ability to streamline your financial management system might make it worth considering. Check reviews online before signing up to gauge its effectiveness.
· Google Wallet: (http://www.google.com/wallet). “With the Google Wallet mobile app, you can make your phone your wallet.” That’s the claim Google makes about Google Wallet, a free digital wallet that securely stores credit cards, debit cards, offers, and more. With GW, your customers can buy in your store, online, and send money. Transactions are fast. There is no setup fee. Receiving money is always free. The fee for sending money using a credit or debit card is not prominently noted on Google’s site, other than “There is a small transaction fee.”
According to Google, “You can use Google Wallet in stores, online, and to send money in the United States. Outside the United States, Google Wallet is available to purchase on Google Play in over 125 countries, and to purchase online in over 160 countries and territories.” Here’s the catch: Google Wallet app is only available on select Android phones in some places. Google Wallet online can be used to make purchases on Google Play, “or across other Google properties, such as Google+, Google Offers, Google Drive, Chrome Web Store, and YouTube.”20
Note Google Wallet could change dramatically when Google rolls it out to US Gmail users and non–Gmail users, so for current users, look for an invite in Gmail’s new “Updates” tab if you already have a Gmail account. With the recent launch of Apple Pay, the challenge for any such service will be to take it global, country by country. Watch to see how adoption can be created outside of the US. Regardless, a wallet-less lifestyle is the way of the future.
· Authorize.Net: (http://www.authorize.net/). A CyberSource solution and a wholly owned subsidiary of Visa, Authorize.Net enables Internet merchants to authorize and accept online payments via credit card and e-check. The site manages the routing of transactions in a similar way to the traditional credit card swipe machine you find in brick-and-mortar stores. However, instead of using a phone line, it processes the charges over the Internet. Retail merchants can integrate Authorize.Net’s payment service via a third-party POS (point-of-sale) payment solution. In addition, the site provides a free Authorize.Net Verified Merchant Seal that can be added to a merchant’s Web site to establish trust and build consumer confidence.
The site’s fees run as follows: $99.00 for setup; $20.00 for monthly gateway; $0.10 per transaction fee; and $0.25 per batch (several transactions transmitted at once). Fees can vary according to prices set by Authorize.Net’s resellers (the financial institutions that offer the site’s payment services), who determine prices based on your type of business and transaction volume.
Authorize.Net has been providing payment-gateway services since 1996, and as a wholly owned subsidiary of Visa, its reliable reputation makes the company a good choice, but at a price.
· Stripe: (https://stripe.com/). San Francisco-based Stripe makes it easy for developers, in specific, to accept credit cards on the web. The key differentiator? You don’t need a merchant account or gateway to set up, but you do need a bank account. Stripe stores cards, subscriptions, and direct payouts to your bank account. The fees range from 2.9 percent per transaction plus a $0.30 per transaction fee. An interesting tidbit: the company is backed by PayPal founders Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, and Max Levchin. Most of the site’s base is US and Canadian fans, but by the time you read this, that could change and the business could be taken all over the world. Study up.
· Braintree: (https://www.braintreepayments.com/). This company, founded in 2007, offers another way to accept payments online (including foreign currency) and on mobile apps. It provides a merchant account, a payment gateway, recurring billing, and credit card storage. Fees are 2.9 percent per transaction plus a $0.30 per transaction fee. There are no additional fees and no minimums. Due to legal and regulatory compliance reasons, Braintree does not work with everybody (door-to-door sales or negative response marketing, for example, are two things they don’t do), so be sure to check on the site before making a decision. Braintree works with most of the leading e-commerce and billing platforms. Check to make sure yours is covered.
At the bottom of their website, it states: “We’ll be in more countries soon, get notified.”
Caution Fraudulent activity is a pervasive issue when it comes to online payment activity. Be vigilant. Consult with your bank or credit card company to determine the best practice for preventing and managing online payment fraud.
· Simply Commerce: (https://www.simplify.com/commerce/). Owned by MasterCard, Simply Commerce (MSC) accepts e-commerce and mobile-commerce payments regardless of the payment brand (meaning, it doesn’t just work with MasterCard) in a matter of minutes. It’s developer friendly (provided you have a web developer on hand), in that it gives merchants, especially small businesses, the code instructions for accepting electronic payments. MSC serves as both a merchant account and payment gateway in a single, secure package deal. Fees range from 2.85 percent per transaction plus a $0.30 per transaction fee. There are no setup or monthly fees. MSC also works with most of the leading e-commerce (Magento, for example) and billing platforms (OpenCart, for example).
The biggest benefit to MSC is the MasterCard name, which projects security and reliability. Note: As discussed earlier MasterCard also has PayPass (http://www.mastercard.us/ paypass.html), a payment method that lets you use your phone as your wallet to make everyday purchases without having to swipe the magnetic strip on your credit card or provide your signature.
Many third-party logistics and fulfillment suppliers (3PLs), discussed in Chapter 9, specialize in helping businesses ship internationally and collecting payment. Inquire.
Final note The information that I have shared in this chapter regarding online payment methods is just the tip of the iceberg. Watch for tremendous strides and breakthroughs in e-commerce and m-commerce payment methods for smart phones and tablets during the coming months—not years—which will bring new options to consumers worldwide.
Remember what I said earlier: The most important thing to negotiate before closing on an export sale is how payment will be made. Knowing that these solutions exist will allow you to fund, grow, and succeed in the export marketplace.
When you have wrapped up your export sale, either by finalizing secure payment terms or arranging a creative-financing package that satisfies both you and your customer, it’s time to move your cargo. After a final review of everything you have put into place thus far, you’re ready for the export wrap-up: booking, packing, marking, and insuring your shipment to make sure it arrives in the best condition for your customer and preparing export documentation. The following chapter will outline the most essential documents as well as the less common types you might be required to present. After a final review of terms of payment and documentation, your export goods will be on their way!
1. “Ex-Im Bank Authorizes $130 Million to Finance Export of U.S.-Manufactured Aircraft and Engines to Ethiopian Airlines,” PR Newswire, Reuters, June 27, 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/27/ex-im-ethiopian-air-idUSnPNDC39945+1e0+PRN20130627.
2. An irrevocable letter of credit is a commercial document that your customer requests your bank to issue in your favor. Once issued, it cannot be modified without both parties’ consent. “Irrevocable” means that the bank must pay you even if your customer defaults, provided the documents presented are “clean,” meaning that they are in complete compliance with the language of the L/C and are presented to the bank prior to the expiration date. I discuss L/Cs in depth later in the chapter.
3. “International Trade Credit Insurance,” Laurel Delaney, About.com: Import & Export, accessed October 30, 2013, http://importexport.about.com/od/Financing/a/International-Trade-Credit-Insurance.htm.
4. “Mobile Payments: Three Winning Strategies for Banks,” SWIFT: White Paper, 2012, http://www.swift.com/resources/documents/SWIFT_white_paper_Mobile_Payments.pdf.
5. “Preferred Online Payment Methods in Norway 2012,” eMarketer, TNS Gallup, Statista, 2013, http://www.statista.com/statistics/248360/preferred-online-payment-methods-among-online-buyers-in-norway/.
6. “Visa PayWave for Mobile,” Visa Developers, accessed October 30, 2013, https://developer.visa.com/paywavemobile
7. “There’s Finally a Reason to Be Jealous of Clinkle’s $25 Million Stanford Dropouts,” Rebecca Greenfield, Atlantic Wire, July 2, 2013, http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2013/07/what-is-clinkle/66792/.
8. “PayPal and China UnionPay Open the Global Marketplace to Chinese Consumers,” PayPal, March 17, 2010, https://www.paypal-media.com/press-releases/2010031700566.1
9. “Prepaid Cards,” FIS, accessed October 30, 2013, http://www.fisglobal.com/products-card-prepaidcards.
10. “CBD, Western Union to Launch Prepaid Payroll Card in UAE,” Staff, Emirates 24/7, July 24, 2013, http://www.emirates247.com/business/economy-finance/cbd-western-union-to-launch-prepaid-payroll-card-in-uae-2013-07-04-1.513215.
11. 02, accessed October 30, 2013, http://www.o2.co.uk/business/products-and-services/mobile-and-tablets/mobile-payment-service.
12. “EE Cash on Tap Brings Contactless Payments to Mobiles,” Expert Reviews, accessed October 30, 2013, http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/smartphones/1300867/ee-cash-on-tap-brings-contactless-payments-to-mobiles.
13. “Automated Clearning House (ACH),” Bank of America Merrill Lynch, accessed October 30, 2013, http://corp.bankofamerica.com/business/ci/landing/ach.
14. “Automated Clearing House,” PNC, accessed November 3, 2013, https://www.pnc.com/webapp/unsec/ProductsAndService.do?siteArea=/pnccorp/PNC/Home/Corporate+and+Institutional/Treasury+Management/Collections+and+Deposits/Automated+Clearing+House+%28ACH%29.
15. “Chase ACH Payments,” Chase, accessed October 30, 2013, https://www.chase.com/business-banking/online-banking/ach-payments.
16. “PayPal Fees For Purchases, Getting Paid and Personal Transfers,” accessed November 3, 2013, https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/paypal-fees.
17. “About PayPal,” accessed November 3, 2013, https://www.paypal-media.com/about.
18. “FeeFighters Launches Payment Gateway Samurai,” Leena Rao, TCTV, September 23, 2011, http://www.techcrunch.com/2011/09/23/feefighters-launches-payment-gateway-samurai/.
19. “Our Mission,” Dwolla, accessed October 30, 2013, http://www.dwolla.com/about.
20. Google Wallet: Frequently Asked Questions, accessed October 30, 2013, http://www.google.com/wallet/faq.html.