Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Credit Card Merchant Accounts

A week or so back there was a discussion on one of the mailing lists I subscribe to about obtaining on-line merchant accounts for credit cards that would accept multiple currencies.

The answer is that New Zealand banks try to restrict their customers to only accepting NZ currency and place all kinds of barriers in the way of businesses that want to accept payments in foreign currency. No wonder so many smaller NZ businesses are forced into accepting paypal and incurring their relatively high merchant charges.

We're in a global economy and if you want to sell to people in larger countries you usually need to accept their currency. This is especially true of Americans and the English but also applies to a lesser extent to Europeans and even Australians. With information products I can sell globally, it only requires a few photons to go down the fibre cable to the world internet. Even for physical products its' possible to ship from New Zealand to the major markets of the world ... just ask the people who have been exporting cheese, meat and wool for the last 120 years.

Call me disloyal, but I get my business cards printed in Australia ... I simply can't find a New Zealand printer who can give me anything like the convenience and price of the Australian offering. They have a site and accept NZ Dollars, and it wasn't until I checked the whois on the domain before placing my first order that I even realised that I was dealing with a foreign company.

If you look at the US market, accepting credit cards is a competitive business and there are a lot of people offering this service. It took me under a minute to find Ms Merchant Account whose banner proclaims you can start accepting credit cards today with low discount rates and they are prepared to accept on-line transactions and foreign currency transactions.

So, why aren't our banks offering us services like this? Have they simply had a nod and a wink and decided not to compete?

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