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What you should know about accepting payments from customers from abroad

By Gino Ravaioli , 25-Jan-2016
Last updated on 25-Jan-2016 at 10:15 GMT2016-01-25T10:15:11Z

What you should know about accepting payments from customers from abroad

Gino Ravaioli, chairman of the DCC Forum, a group of 5 international companies which works in the Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) and financial services sector, talks through the options hospitality businesses now have when taking payments from overseas visitors. 

2016 is set to be a big year for the hospitality industry with recent reports suggesting that overseas visitors will spend over £23 billion in the UK this year alone. This will include an influx of tourists and business travellers from new markets, many following in the footsteps of recent high profile visits from the Chinese President and Indian Prime Minister. 

These new visitors present both a huge opportunity and a potential challenge. Gone are the days when tourists travel with large amounts of foreign currency. Most people now want to make payments abroad in the same way that they make payments at home – that is, on their credit or debit card. 

The problem is that currency conversion is already a complex enough area before you add language barriers to the mix. With new markets opening up, guests are more likely than ever to be travelling to the UK for the first time. They might speak little English and have no understanding of the up-to-date Sterling exchange rate. 

So with this in mind, how can you make sure that you’re ready for these card transactions, and how can you offer these different options to your customers?

Choices

Put simply, your customers have two choices:

  1. They can pay in the local currency - in this case, pounds. Additional fees from banks and card providers are then charged following the transaction, depending on who your customer chooses to bank with. These additional fees might be added several days after the transaction has been made.
  2. They can pay in their home currency, whether Euros, Dollars, or Yuan. As a result, your customer will have chosen to apply Dynamic Currency Conversion, or DCC, which includes a DCC fee at the point of transaction, instead of applying card or bank fees later on.  

It’s important to note that DCC is an additional option, which those in the hospitality industry can offer their customers. Selecting DCC might be right for one customer, but not for another. What is important is that all customers are given clear and succinct information on which to make their decision enabling them to pay in a way that they feel most comfortable with. 

Many will value having their payment quoted in their home currency so that they can better understand the full cost of their transaction in a way familiar to them. Others will prefer to pay using the local currency and take advantage of special offers from their bank or card provider. 

If your customers do choose to pay in their home currency and therefore select DCC, in processing the payment you will take a cut of the replacement DCC fee. Rather than conversion fees going directly to banks or card providers, these fees can be reinvested into the hospitality industry or passed on as savings. 

The hospitality industry already offers choice to its foreign guests in so many areas, whether it be in the form of translated menus or servers who can speak multiple languages. This culture of choice should also extend to payments, allowing those who want to use their credit or debit card to pay in the currency that they feel most comfortable using. It is our job to provide them with the knowledge to make the decision that ultimately suits them best.

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