Is Global eCommerce Really Such a Dark and Scary Place?

by Jay DeWitt on April 5, 2010

in ECommerce, Ecommerce Payments, Global Payments, Globalization, Jay DeWitt

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Here at Glenbrook, we work closely with eCommerce merchants on issues and opportunities that they confront every day. Increasingly, the questions we hear surround the topic of “going global” — “What countries should I sell into? What local payment methods are important? Who can provide my company’s payment services over seas? It seems that U.S. merchants have an incredibly difficult time answering these questions… and good resources (other than Glenbrook!) are few and far between.

Why is the topic of global payment processing such a dark and scary place for merchants? Is it because of language difficulties? The perceived (and sometimes real) vagaries of foreign laws? Are domestic payment schemes on far flung parts of the world that different? Or is it because “dark and scary” is what you want if you’re selling flashlights?

Flashlight sellers? By that I mean global payment service providers such as Global Collect, Netgiro and Bibit (now part of RBS WorldPay). If you are a US merchant searching for a global processing solution, these are the providers that are going to be first up on your list — and they can certainly help you.  But I’m often disappointed with their efforts to help merchants understand their options when selling online over seas. It seems that instead of educating merchants, which from my perspective should be their primary sales tool, instead they hold their global payment knowledge close to the vest, as though it were proprietary information.

Maybe Adyen, a new (to the US) global processing provider launching this week, can become not another flashlight, but a beacon for merchants trying to understand their cross-border options. Adyen says they are able to offer merchants access to a large number of countries, currencies and payment methods… all with transparent payment processing, a single contract and integration, utilizing a “try it, you’ll like it approach” with no exclusivity or long contract term requirements. Sounds good to me!

…But I want more, I want merchants to have easy access to knowledge about cross-border processing. I want them to know which payment methods are important in which countries, and to have clear choices among payment service providers. And most importantly, I want service providers to finally realize that it is much more effective to sell their services by educating merchants and selling on the strength of their offerings, rather than keeping things dark and scary and selling on merchant’s trepidations.

Maybe Adyen is this new kind of service provider… if so, I predict success.  There are signs, too, that the other players are starting to “get-it” — Netgiro had a great webinar this week on Brazilian and Chinese payment options. To all providers in this space, I say “step-up”!

2 Responses to “Is Global eCommerce Really Such a Dark and Scary Place?”

  1. David Snyder says:

    Jay, thanks for writing on this topic and mentioning a new company in the space.

    I agree with you on the things that often make global e-commerce difficult. Different languages, different laws, and different payment processes are definitely important factors. Also important are forming personal and business relationships with local bankers and technology providers to establish the foundation for successful projects. Cross-cultural factors must not be underestimated — something US managers accustomed to the way things are done in the US can easily forget.

    Service providers like Ayden and GlobalCollect can provide infrastructure connections, but I find someone needs to act as a facilitator and advocate on behalf of the merchant, both with the service provider and with the local banks. Ultimately, it’s unlikely a merchant will find an off-the-shelf solution that will integrate perfectly between their processes and the way things work in another country. Sometimes this means asking the service provider to customize their solution. I’ve also found it extremely useful to partner with a local attorney who can help with interpreting and navigating local requirements.

    My feeling is the merchant needs someone on-staff or a consultant to handle these tasks. Someone who understands the ins and outs of these types of implementations and can help the merchant make the most of what the service providers offer and avoid pitfalls.

    As for transparency on which payment methods are important, the information seems to be available from some analysts and newsletters, but one frequently has to pay to get the data.

    David Snyder, 42TEK, Inc.

  2. pwb says:

    What do you think of Wells for multi-currency processing? Does anyone know for sure the physical presence rules for processing Visa/MC/Amex in Europe? Amex in Canada?

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