Visa and MasterCard now charge a cross border transaction fee even when no currency conversion occurs. This relatively new fee - “cross border transaction fee” (MC) or “International Service Assessment (ISA) fee” (Visa) – was initiated by Visa and MC to ‘fight’ usage of the international credit card processing network when no currency conversion occurs.
Many on-line merchants make their best effort to enhance the shopping experience. By Geolocation they identify the shopper’s location and offer a local shopping experience, including local currency pricing. This is now supported by acquirers enabling multi-currency processing.
In such international transactions, no conversion occurs and the merchant receives the foreign currency paid by the shopper. The merchant can either manage the FX in-house, use third parties which specialize in this field and can guarantee the USD amount, such as E4X or FXmicropay or use direct cross currency processing offered by acquirers, such as ChasePaymentech.
One way or another, due to these many bypass solutions, Visa and MasterCard added the new cross border transaction fee. The fee applies when a shopper makes a single-currency purchase at a foreign country merchant, or in other words, when the issuing bank of the shopper is located at a different region than the merchant account of the seller.
Many travelers and on-line shoppers are already familiar with this fee, yet only few merchants are aware of the higher discount rates associated with such transactions, as well.
The workaround is relatively simple and should be applied when possible. Merchants may open local merchant accounts once establishing a local presence. Many of the merchants operating internationally already have international presence and those who do not can easily obtain one. Now that Europe is one big region, researches show that most US merchants can cover over 80% of their international sales by opening one Canadian entity and one EU entity only.
As shoppers origin is already identified (Geolocation – remember?), any international transaction is automatically routed to the relevant local merchant account. Issuer and Acquirer are now in the same region and no cross border transaction fee applies.
Gidi Argov, Founder and CEO