The ultimate guide to paying overseas suppliers

6 minutes
Business tips
The ultimate guide to paying overseas suppliers
In this article

In today’s hyperconnected world, it’s easy to find, secure, and do business with international merchants and suppliers. Business is practically instant, and Google Translate can facilitate your communication. In the global city state that is Singapore, the only things slowing you down are different time zones, and the methods used to pay your international suppliers.

One thing’s for sure, businesses regardless of size want a quick, reliable, cost-effective and secure method to make overseas payments. One delayed payment, or a couple of unexpected fees, and your relationship with a supplier can get derailed.

Choosing the right international payment method can make all the difference in streamlining your international business relationships, so it’s crucial that you understand what’s involved with each one.

Bank transfer

A simple way Singapore businesses can pay overseas suppliers is via bank transfer. All you need to know are your supplier’s bank details - the transaction itself is run through the SWIFT network.

However, international bank transfers typically require a great deal of your time—and an even greater deal of trust. There isn’t much protection for merchants or suppliers, nor recourse from your bank in the chance your transaction goes wrong. On top of limited security, international bank transfers are typically slower, taking up to five business days or longer to be completed. 

You also face high fees on your transaction, ranging typically from $10 to $30 or more. That’s per transaction. In some cases, you’re even charged fees to amend, cancel, or investigate any issues with your transfer. This is on top of the FX rate banks give, which can be 3-4% more the interbank FX rate (the rate you typically find on Google). So if you’re after a cheap, secure way to send money internationally from Singapore, a bank transfer through one of the big banks may not be the best way to pay overseas suppliers.

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PayPal or credit card

Using your credit card or PayPal to pay overseas suppliers is a reasonably simple, straightforward method that works adequately for smaller payments. The benefits of PayPal include a good dispute resolution process, secure technology, and protection against fraud. However, PayPal charges both a percentage fee and a flat dollar fee per payment, which scales up based on the amount of money you’re sending.

Also, when paying via PayPal you run the risk of account holds, declined payments (based on their perceived level of risk), laborious payment times, and the risk that your transaction may even be cancelled.

While your credit card can be a suitable method for instant payment, you will be charged a high foreign transaction fee between 2-5% to 3.5% on each payment.

Peer-to-peer currency transfers

Peer-to-peer transfers have grown in popularity in Singapore as personal and local business payment platforms. PayNow and PayLah are two local platforms that simply require a mobile or identification number for personal transfers, and a Unique Entity Number (UEN) for local businesses. Union Pay, headquartered in China, is another established peer-to-peer platform for international transfers. 

While such transfers are considerably quick and simple, the majority of participating banks still only permit local currency transfers. PayNow for instance, recently linked up with Thailand’s PromptPay, but even so, only three Singapore and four Thai banks are currently under the scheme, while their tie up with Malaysia’s DuitNow is still just in the pipeline. 

Such platforms provide quick payments and typically charge lower fees than banks, but are generally more limited in reach, less competitive in rates, and can still take days for payments to clear.


If you are making international payments and want a cost-effective, fast and secure way to send money from Singapore, why not consider Airwallex? We believe Airwallex is the best way to pay overseas suppliers. It’s not just because we’re biased—it’s true. 

Some of the advantages of using Airwallex are:

  • Our lightning-fast payment system means you can pay international suppliers practically instantaneously. No waiting around for money to clear, no delays. 

  • We offer you access to the interbank FX rate with a very small and transparent margin on top. This means we are up to 90% cheaper than the big banks. Best of all, the margin is the same regardless of the amount you are paying - so no need to call up to negotiate the best rates.

  • We also offer card payment options with zero international transaction fees. If you need to make a card payment, instantly register for a virtual VISA debit card to pay a supplier online. 

  • Lastly, we have no monthly fees and our business account can be set up quickly, and entirely online.

With access to over 130 countries in 30+ currencies, Airwallex is the safest and most cost-effective way to pay your overseas suppliers, too. We are PCI compliant so your data and funds remain protected at every step of your transfer and our security systems maintain the highest international standards.

Send international payments with $0 TT fees and market-leading FX rates

The best way to pay overseas suppliers is with Airwallex

For complete certainty, absolute speed, and the best exchange rates around, Airwallex is the safest way to pay your overseas suppliers.

It’s easy to set up, easy to get started, and you gain direct access to our expert support team to help you get the most out of your new payment system.

Get in touch with us to experience first-hand how Airwallex can streamline your international payments today.

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