Top 5 Mistakes Businesses Make with International Transfers

Discover the top five mistakes in international money transfers and essential tips for secure, efficient cross-border payments

International money transfers are a critical component of global business operations. However, the complexities of cross-border payments often trip up even the most experienced financial managers. Here are the top five mistakes businesses make with international transfers, along with essential tips to avoid them and ensure your money reaches its intended destination efficiently and securely.

1. Failing to Verify Recipient Details

Mistake: Not confirming the recipient's details can lead to funds being sent to the wrong account – a costly and sometimes irreversible error or, even worse - becoming a victim of fraud.

Prevention Tip: Always double-check all recipient details, including their name, bank account number, bank name, and country of residence. Consider implementing a verification call or email to ensure everything is accurate before you transfer. Implement a robust approval process to reduce risks of wrong or fraudulent transfers.

2. Incorrect Recipient Name

Mistake: In certain countries, such as China, the exact spelling of the recipient's name is necessary. A minor discrepancy can lead to transfer rejection.

Prevention Tip: Be extra cautious with the spelling of recipient names. Always request written confirmation of the recipient's full name and ensure it matches their bank records exactly before initiating the transfer.

3. Confusing Correspondent and Recipient Bank Details

Mistake: It's easy to mix up correspondent and recipient bank details when sending SWIFT payments, which can send your money into banking limbo.

Prevention Tip: Focus on the intended recipient's bank details and use only those for the transfer. Correspondent bank information is not usually required but consult with your bank or payment provider if in doubt.

4. Using Expensive SWIFT Transfers where Cheaper Alternatives Exist

Mistake: SWIFT transfers come with additional fees, which can add up if you make many payments. In many cases, alternative payment routes, such as SEPA for payments in Euros or ACH for USD payments to the recipients in the US can save money and often time.

Prevention Tip: Explore different payment options and compare fees before making a transfer. In general, direct and local payments tend to be more affordable than SWIFT transfers.

5. Overlooking Transfer Fees and Hidden Costs

Mistake: Businesses often focus on the convenience of the transfer without considering additional costs, which can pile up and make transactions more expensive.

Prevention Tip: Understand the fee structure of your chosen payment provider, including the difference between flat fees and percentage-based charges. Comparison shopping and negotiating better terms with providers can lead to significant savings.

Remember, due diligence and attention to detail are paramount when dealing with international transfers. By avoiding these common mistakes and following the prevention tips, you can ensure your business’s funds reach their destination safely while minimising unnecessary costs and delays.

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HedgeFlows is a cloud-based risk management system for smaller corporates that trade internationally.

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