7 best cross payment services & solutions in 2024

Shermaine Tan8 min
Business tipsGuides
  7 best cross payment services & solutions in 2024
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If you sell overseas or source from international suppliers, you need an efficient and cost-effective way to send or collect payments. Nearly half of businesses report that the cost of payment processing is a major pain point1, while 3 in 10 say that the cross-border efficiency of transactions is an issue2

The right cross-border payment service can help you manage transactions while protecting your bottom line from hefty fees. But which service should you use, and what features do you look out for?

In this article, we’ll take a look at how cross-border payments work, the top fintech firms for international payments, and how to choose a provider for your business. You’ll also learn more about Airwallex and how Singapore businesses use our all-in-one business account to drive their overseas expansion.

What is a cross-border payment service?

A cross-border payment service is a financial service that enables businesses to send and receive money from different countries and regions. They are usually financial technology (fintech) firms that specialise in international payments, offering services that include multi-currency accounts, foreign currency conversion, or payment gateways.

Unlike traditional banks, which often have higher fees and longer processing times, specialised cross-border payment services can be faster and more cost-effective.

That’s because the latter uses technology that automates the manual processes involved with international payments. For these reasons, 40% of banks have reported losing at least 5% of their market share to fintech firms.

Top cross-border payment solutions in 2024

Singapore is home to nearly 1,600 fintech firms4, 31% of which offer payment services5. Let’s look at the country’s top fintech firms for businesses and the services they offer:

Wise Business

Best for: Existing Wise Personal users exploring fintech solutions for their business

Wise has been serving consumers and businesses in Singapore since 2017. The Wise Business account has 9 local currency accounts where you can accept payments in these currencies via local bank details. Wise also facilitates bank transfers to 70 countries, and offers mid-market rates for currency exchange. 

Like the Wise Personal account, you also get a Wise debit card for business expenses, plus the ability to issue virtual cards to your employees. You also have business-friendly features like batch payments and Xero software integrations.

If you’re already an existing Wise Personal account user, it can make sense to use Wise Business for your SME or freelance payments. You’ll find the interface familiar and easy to navigate, so you spend less time onboarding and more time running your business. 

Wise Business’s solutions include:

  • Multi-currency accounts 

  • Fast, low-cost international transfers including batch payments

  • Virtual debit cards

  • Accounting software integrations  

  • Batch payments

  • Payment links

  • Expense management

WorldFirst

Best for: Businesses who work with 1688.com suppliers in China

WorldFirst is a UK-based fintech firm that helps SMEs overcome the complexities of international payments. They became part of Alibaba’s Ant Group in 2019, and have since rolled out solutions for sending money to China

WorldFirst account holders in Singapore can integrate their account to 1688.com and send instant CNH payments to their suppliers. They also enjoy favourable exchange rates and currency risk mitigation services like firm orders and forward contracts. 

In terms of receiving payments, WorldFirst users can open 19 local currency accounts with local account details. These can be used to accept payments from marketplaces such as Amazon. Businesses who already work with 1688.com suppliers are likely to get the most out of WorldFirst’s services - especially when it comes to paying their suppliers quickly and getting favourable CNH rates.

WorldFirst’s solutions include:

  • Local currency accounts

  • Competitive FX conversion rates

  • Instant payments to 1688.com suppliers

  • Xero integration

  • Payment acceptance from marketplaces like Amazon

  • Firm orders, forward contracts and spot contracts

Wallex

Best for: Businesses who need a simple way to exchange currencies and do transfers

Wallex (not to be confused with Airwallex) is a payment specialist that serves SMEs in Southeast Asia. Since 2015, businesses have used the Wallex multi-currency account to send cross-border payments, convert currencies, and manage 13 currencies in local accounts. Users can also generate bank details for 36 currencies and collect payments like a local. 

SMEs can benefit from Wallex if they only want a straightforward way to send or collect payments, and do not need other services like debit cards. Each of Wallex’s services are available as 3 separate subscriptions, and you’ll have to write the Wallex team to view the fee schedule.

Wallex’s solutions include:

  • Local currency accounts

  • Competitive FX conversion rates

  • Global payments 

  • International collection

Convera

Best for: Businesses who need industry-specific payments and FX solutions

Previously known as Western Union Business Solutions, Convera provides cross-border payment solutions to SMEs and large organisations like NGOs. 

Account holders can send one-off or mass payments to 200 countries in 140 currencies. They also have access to forward contracts, which minimises foreign exchange risk by letting them set exchange rates on payables or receivables.  

If your organisation has specialised payment needs, you may benefit from Convera’s industry-specific services for educational institutions and NGOs. Convera also risk management teams that you can work with to create a customised strategy for your business.

Convera’s solutions include:

  • Competitive FX conversion rates

  • Global payments 

  • International collection

  • Industry-specific payments solutions

  • Currency risk management strategies

YouBiz

Best for: Multi-currency debit cards for individuals and businesses 

In 2022, homegrown fintech firm YouTrip launched YouBiz, a corporate multi-currency card tailored to SMEs. The YouBiz card works like the Wise debit card, where it lets you spend from your held currencies and converts currencies at the interbank rate. It also has unlimited cashback and no foreign exchange fees. 

YouBiz also has a business account that includes multi-currency accounts, local and domestic transfers, expense management, and bill payments.

YouBiz can be a good fit for SMEs and startups who want to try using fintech solutions. Existing YouTrip users who are already familiar with the app’s interface may have an easier time integrating YouBiz into their business operations.

YouBiz’s solutions include:

  • Local currency accounts

  • Competitive FX conversion rates

  • Physical and virtual corporate cards

  • Expense management

  • Xero integration

  • Bill payments

Sunrate

Best for: Businesses who need risk and treasury management solutions

Sunrate has been serving businesses of all sizes since 2016. Businesses can make payments to 190 countries and regions, transact in more than 130 currencies, and settle card expenses in over 15 currencies. They also benefit from global collection services in over 30 currencies, collecting funds in over 10 major currencies via local currency accounts.

In 2022, they moved their global headquarters to Singapore where they continue to support regional businesses.  Their risk and treasury management tools make them a good choice for businesses who want comprehensive solutions for their cash flow and foreign currency holdings.

Sunrate’s solutions include:

  • Local currency accounts

  • Competitive FX conversion rates

  • Physical and virtual corporate cards

  • RiskOS for risk management solutions

  • TreasuryOS for automating accounts receivables and payables

  • Foreign exchange risk management

Airwallex

Best for: Global businesses of all sizes who need an all-in-one cross-border payment solution

Founded in 2015, Airwallex enables seamless global payments and money management exclusively to businesses. Our all-in-one Business Account has all the payment solutions offered by the providers above, from receiving, holding, and paying in foreign currencies to bill payments, debit cards, and risk management. With Airwallex, Singaporean businesses like Dreamcore reduced time spent managing multiple fintech providers by up to 50%.   

Local and international payments flow into Airwallex’s Global Accounts - multi-currency accounts with local bank details and support for 20+ currencies. For exchanging currencies, Airwallex also offers a friendly interbank exchange rate, which is calculated based on live exchange rates from banking partners and market data sources. All fees are displayed on the dashboard, so businesses can see how much each conversion really costs. 

Airwallex also has a partnership with local payment rails in 110+ countries. You pay 0 foreign transaction fees when you make non-wire or non-SWIFT payments to these countries.

Additionally, Airwallex has a robust payment gateway that integrates seamlessly with eCommerce platforms like Shopify and supports 160+ local payment methods. We also offer like-for-like settlement in 11 foreign currencies.   This means you’re not forced to convert currencies to SGD, which protects you from fluctuating exchange rates and unnecessary conversion fees. 

These features make Airwallex a great choice for businesses that need an all-in-one solution for cross-border payments and daily operations.

Airwallex’s solutions include:

  • Multi-currency accounts in 20+ currencies

  • Interbank foreign exchange rates

  • Fast, low-cost international transfers to 110+ countries

  • Free-to-issue multi-currency Borderless Cards with 1% unlimited cashback

  • Payment gateway with like-for-like settlement in 11 currencies

  • Expense management and reimbursement

  • Accounting and eCommerce software integrations

  • Intelligent currency risk management

  • Global treasury 

Top features to look for in a cross-border payment service

When choosing a cross-border payment service, it's essential to look for features that ensure efficiency, security, and relevance to your business’s needs. Here are five key features to consider:

  • Cost-effective fees and competitive exchange rates. Minimise costs by selecting a provider that offers transparent fees and interbank exchange rates - the “real” exchange rate for any currency conversion pair.

  • Fast settlement times. Firms like Airwallex work with local payment networks to facilitate transactions and complete them as soon as 1 business day. This helps maintain smooth cash flow and reduces the risk of payment delays.

  • End-to-end transparency. Look for a service that lets you track transfers in real-time, and shows the exact amount your recipient will get. You should also see fees up-front, so you can anticipate how much your transaction will cost.

  • Security. The best payment specialists adhere to high international security standards including PCI DSS, SOC1, and SOC2 compliance, in addition to our local regulatory requirements.

  • Integrations with business software. Choose a payment provider that works with your existing accounting software or eCommerce platform. This streamlines manual processes and gives you greater operational efficiency.

  • Local and regional customer support. Find out where the payment provider’s customer support team is based. You’ll want one that’s based in Singapore so they have local market knowledge, as well as regional support who can help in case your payments get stuck between countries. 

How does a cross-border payment work?

A cross-border payment involves transferring funds from one country to another, typically through a bank or specialised payment service.

When you initiate a payment, the service converts your currency into the recipient's currency using the current exchange rate. The funds are then sent through financial institutions or payment networks, which can take a few hours to several days depending on the service and countries involved. Along the way, fees may be deducted by the payment service and any intermediary banks. 

Finally, the payment arrives in the local currency, which the recipient can access through their bank account.

What questions to ask before onboarding a cross-border payments provider?

Before onboarding a payment service provider, be sure you fully understand the costs, services, and support you’ll receive. Here are the questions that you should ask:

  • What fees do you charge for sending and receiving payments? Not all providers are transparent about their fees. Be sure to get a copy of their fee structure so you can anticipate the total cost of each transaction.

  • What is your exchange rate markup? Many providers offer interbank rates but charge a small exchange rate markup on top of this. Check their markups for the currencies you transact the most. This shows you how competitive the overall price will be.

  • Do you use local payment rails for international transfers? Services that use local payment rails, like ACH in the USA, results in cheaper, faster, and more successful payments (unlike SWIFT). 

  • What kind of customer support do you offer? Accessible and reliable customer support is critical for a smooth onboarding process for you and your team. Some payment services offer dedicated account managers to select businesses.

  • What security measures do you have in place? A good payment provider should ensure your customer transactions are secure and encrypted, making it difficult for payment information to be intercepted by bad actors.

Why choose Airwallex as a cross-border payments provider?

Airwallex is a better choice for businesses that need a payment solution for overseas customers, suppliers, and teams at an affordable rate. You can create 23+ local currency accounts that let you accept payments like a local business. Sending international payments to 110+ countries is free if you use local methods, and you only pay a flat rate for SWIFT payments. 

Airwallex also has no monthly fees or subscription fees. Instead, you only pay for the services that you use, which is incredibly cost-effective for SMEs who need simple finance services. Our solutions also scale with your business, and our full range of products can meet your evolving needs. 

With extensive capabilities for global payments, zero hidden fees, transparent forex rates, and financial management tools, Airwallex is a growth engine for Singapore businesses like Little Blossom, EU Holidays, and Igloohome.

See for yourself and open an Airwallex Business Account today.

Get the business account built for growth, with Airwallex

Frequently asked questions about cross-border payment providers

1. What is cross-border software?

Cross-border software allows businesses to manage transactions across different countries. It supports multiple currencies, languages, and regulatory compliance requirements This software helps businesses streamline their global operations efficiently and securely.

2. What important factors to choose when selecting a cross-border payment solution?

Here are some important factors to consider when selecting a cross-border payment solution:

  • Fees and exchange rates. Look for a provider with a transparent fee schedule and competitive exchange rates to minimise foreign transaction fees.

  • Transaction speed. Choose a solution that offers fast processing times to ensure timely payments and improve cash flow management.

  • Security and compliance. Ensure that the provider has robust security measures and complies with the MAS and international regulations to protect your financial data and maintain legal standards.

3. How much does it cost to onboard a cross-border payment solution?

The cost depends on the provider. Some solutions have account opening fees, while others like Airwallex let you open an account for free. 

4. How safe are cross-border payment services?

Cross-border payment services are usually safe. In Singapore, services like Airwallex are licensed as a Major Payment Institution and regulated by the MAS. This means our customer funds are safeguarded according to MAS requirements.

Sources & references

1  https://www.statista.com/statistics/1386603/payments-issues-from-clients-according-to-providers/

2  https://www.statista.com/topics/11647/cross-border-payments/#topicOverview

3  https://thefinancialbrand.com/news/payments-trends/fintech-is-disrupting-cross-border-payments-how-should-banks-respond-174954/

4  https://www.statista.com/statistics/1296289/singapore-number-of-operating-fintech-firms/

5  https://fintechlab.nus.edu.sg/singapores-payments-industry-the-way-forward-in-2023/ 6  https://wise.com/help/articles/2897238/which-currencies-can-i-add-keep-and-receive-in-my-wise-account

7 https://www.worldfirst.com/sg/for-online-sellers/

8  https://www.sunrate.com/case-study/buy-globally-and-pay-locally-with-sunrates-multicurrency/

9  https://www.worldfirst.com/sg/about-worldfirst/

10  https://www.worldfirst.com/sg/pay-1688-suppliers/ 11  https://www.worldfirst.com/sg/marketplaces/

12  https://www.wallex.asia/en-sg/business-solutions/multi-currency-wallets

13  https://www.wallex.asia/en-sg/business-solutions/collect-payments

14  https://www.wallex.asia/en-sg/pricing

15  https://convera.com/en-sg/solutions/global-payments/manage-currency-risk/

16  https://convera.com/en-sg/solutions/pay-tuition/

17  https://convera.com/en-sg/industries/ngo/

18  https://convera.com/en-sg/solutions/risk-management/create-risk-management-strategy/

19  https://en.prnasia.com/releases/apac/sunrate-sets-up-global-headquarters-in-singapore-offers-global-payment-and-treasury-management-in-one-platform-381632.shtml

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Shermaine Tan
Manager, Growth Marketing

Shermaine spearheads the development and execution of content strategy for businesses in Singapore and the SEA region at Airwallex. Leveraging her extensive experience in eCommerce, digital payment solutions, business banking, and the cross-border industry, she provides invaluable insights that guide businesses through the complexities of global commerce. Specialising in crafting relevant and engaging content that resonates with business owners, her work is designed to drive growth and innovation within the fintech and business economy space.

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