Offshore merchant accounts are often the only solution for businesses that, because of their geographic location or the nature of the products or services they sell, cannot find a merchant account using the normal means.

 

Below, we offer a short discussion concerning the nature of offshore credit card processing, its benefits and drawbacks.

 

Following that discussion we set out our recommendations as to four leading providers of offshore merchant account services.

Offshore Merchant Accounts

The Special Requirements of Offshore Merchant Accounts

Most domestic banks and independent service providers (ISO’s) do not offer merchant accounts or credit card processing services to industries that they consider to be high-risk.And many U.S. banks won’t provide a merchant account to a foreign business.

 

Gaming, adult, pharmacies, phone card sales, timeshare rentals, multilevel marketing, credit repair & counseling, collection agencies and outbound telemarketing are amongst the industries usually caught in the high-risk net.

 

As a result, businesses in such restricted industries seek offshore merchant account solutions.

 

An offshore merchant account processes a business’ credit card transactions through a non-domestic processing bank. Many foreign banks are not subject to the same regulations and restrictions as U.S. banks.

 

Offshore ISO’s usually have relationships with a number of banks in different jurisdictions – individual banks may vary considerably as to the industries they will accept and the rates they charge. These banks are willing to assume more risk than their American counterparts – but as their motive is to earn profit, they compensate for the additional risk by charging higher fees than do domestic banks.

 

Offshore merchant accounts usually do not require an actual physical presence in the foreign country. Generally, all business types can qualify ; background checks on the business owners are not typically undertaken; the set-up time for the account is short (often just a week); real-time internet solutions are provided (with a ‘virtual terminal’ commonly also offered, for manual inputting of transactions as required); and your sales proceeds are wired directly to your local bank account.

 

Often, neither monthly volume maximums nor ‘ticket size’ limits are imposed. Therefore if the merchant can maintain a low chargeback history, his business growth should not be limited by restrictions imposed upon him by the offshore processor. This is not the case with many U.S. providers who may impose volume limits on his processing, thereby effectively limiting or slowing down the business’ growth potential.

 

The negative factors involved in setting up and maintaining an offshore merchant account are that the costs of initially setting up the account are often quite high, as are the ongoing discount rates, transaction fees, etc.

 

You may have to provide security in the form of an upfront cash deposit or an ongoing reserve (generally a percentage of your sales each month – 5% to 15% is the norm – are held back for a period of 3 to 6 months). It may be required that you incorporate an offshore international business corporation in the jurisdiction where your merchant account is to be located.

 

Note: You should always seek professional, legal, taxation and accounting advice before committing to any offshore credit card processing solution.

Recommended Offshore Merchant Account Providers

RiskRemedies

  • Provides merchant accounts to practically all high risk and offshore business types, including MLM, travel, aggregators, e-pharmacies, investments, credit repair, timeshares, tobacco, collections, payday loans, adult, etc.
  • Fraud minimization and prevention capabilities include verifying country and billing address, validity of telephone and zip code, credit card issuing bank, country status as type of risk, verification by type of email address used, proxy server source, validity of credit card, IP address, country with billing address, type of mailing address
  • Receive funds weekly to your checking account from your merchant account

 

Metacharge

  • Low rates, fast professional friendly service.
  • Comprehensive solution for internet/mail/telephone order businesses.
  • Internet merchant account with secure payment gateway, starting at just $95.
  • Criteria for your acceptance: (i) minimum sales volume of $5,000 per month (90 day grace period for start-ups); (ii) must have a European Union corporation (they can assist non-EU businesses for as little as $125US with this 2-day process); and (iii) no travel, adult or legally dubious merchants.

 

Durango Merchant Services

  • Specialist in high-risk accounts. Services 99% of high-risk customers worldwide.
  • Offers ecommerce solutions to most international businesses.
  • Pharmacy/adult/gaming specialists. Third party or direct MID accounts offered.
  • Discount rate from 4.5%. Transaction fee from 30 cents.
  • Accept all major credit cards. Weekly settlements.
  • Complete fraud scrub and “Verified by Visa” is available.
  • Quick approvals. All business types accepted.

 

WorldPay

  • A pioneer in the development of multi-currency processing.
  • Acceptance rate of over 90%.
  • Can start using your internet payment system in 7 to10 days.
  • Transactions are protected by the WorldAlert sophisticated fraud-detection system.
  • Multi-currency processing system. Offer your products/services in 120 different currencies from around the globe.
  • Payments receivable in 14 remittance currencies. No currency conversion charges.

 

If you continue to have difficulty locating a merchant account for your business, please check out our Third Party Processing section.

 

For information on the credit card processing costs you may incur with your offshore merchant account, see our Fees Discussion.