Business Money Transfers

More than a quarter of all Australian businesses make international payments. Of these businesses, half are still defaulting to their bank or credit card, simply for convenience or for a lack of time to research alternatives.

However, the truth is that there’s a whole host of specialist companies out there that have taken the pain and unnecessary costs out of the process of sending money abroad. 

Quick look at Australia’s top business money transfer providers

These are the most popular ways to make international business payments in 2024.

CompanyNo transfer fees for businessDedicated account managerRegulatedTrade over PhoneOnline TradingCurrency hedging solutionsCosts
Go to review Torfx
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Low-MediumGo to TorFX
Go to review Send
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Low-MediumGo to Send
Go to review Paypal
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HighGo to Paypal
Go to review OFX
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Low-MediumGo to OFX
Go to review Wise
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LowGo to Wise
Go to review Remitly
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MediumGo to Remitly
Go to review XE
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Low-MediumGo to XE

What else do I need to know?

There’s more to consider when it comes to international business transfers. As well as trying to stay within budget, you may also need to be aware of different tax laws and trading regulations in order to remain business compliant.

Whether you’re a small business or global corporate, this guide will walk you through what you need to know about international payments.

We’ll help outline how to assess the available options and quickly find the most appropriate provider for your business needs.

What is an international business money transfer?

International business money transfers, also referred to as business cross-border payments, are simply any transfers of money between businesses located in different countries. This applies to overseas payments made by businesses of all sizes, including sole traders. 

The vast majority of these payments require a foreign exchange to take place as the two countries involved will usually use a different currency. For instance, as an Australian company, you’ll likely need to make your payment in AUD, but say you’re purchasing goods in the U.S.A, then chances are the company you’re purchasing from will need to receive payment in USD. There are some exceptions to this, as you might be working with a company using a multi-currency account, which we’ll look at later in this article.  

When it comes to international B2B payments, you’re going to want a reliable provider offering a seamless and secure service, as you’ll have reputational risk to consider, and potential penalties for late payment.

How do international business payments work?

Largely speaking, corporate international payments work very similarly to a personal user sending money abroad. The details required are pretty much the same, as business transfers will still pass through the same payment networks. 

SWIFT is the most commonly used global payment network, and it’s what you’ve most likely been using if you’re currently working with your bank to send money internationally. Whilst the SWIFT network is very secure, it does incur fees and sometimes delays, depending on whether your money needs to be routed through an intermediary bank. 


So, to help users get around these issues, many leading currency brokers use a network of locally based banks in popular originating and destination countries, allowing them to bypass the SWIFT network.  More on this later. 

Regardless of whether or not you use the SWIFT network, you’ll still need to provide some sort of international bank code when making your overseas payment. This varies depending on the payment destination but might be an IBAN (UK and Europe), a routing number (USA), or a BSB (New Zealand).

What are the different options?

Let’s take a look at the choices available for sending and receiving cross border payments as a business.

Traditional bank

As we mentioned earlier, the majority of Australian businesses simply default to using their bank to make an overseas transfer. For this reason, it remains the most popular method for international business payments.

Sadly, most businesses are unaware that they’re not only missing out on huge savings, but they’re also getting little to no bespoke service or support. Banks usually reserve this service for their larger corporate customers. So if you’re reading this as a treasurer or FD at a big corporate, banks might still be your best bet.


However, even in this space, a growing number of corporates are adding at least one currency broker to their list of approved vendors. This still leaves SMEs with poor rates and no access to hedging tools, making it near impossible to proactively manage currency exposure.

So is there ever a time you should consider using your bank for an international business money transfer?

For small businesses, there’s probably just one scenario I’d recommend using a bank for an international money transfer. That’s if you’re under severe time constraints to make an urgent business payment that same day. If so, you can save time from bypassing the registration process with a new provider by simply making an express transfer with your existing bank.

If you do find yourself in this situation, hopefully you’re registered with NAB, as we’ve generally found them to be the best Australian bank for international transfers.

If you’re a major company conducting global corporate payments, then you’ll want to ensure your bank is providing razor-sharp margins, integrated payment solutions, and proactive currency management (i.e. from a dedicated currency expert and tailored to the individual needs and risk appetite of your business).

Currency broker

Whilst each option has its own unique benefits, currency brokers like TorFX are unquestionably the best option as a long term money transfer partner.

By far the biggest advantage to using a currency broker is the bespoke service you’ll receive from your assigned account manager. Their guidance can extend far beyond just walking you through the transfer process. A good account manager will proactively help in creating a currency strategy for your business. They’ll walk you through the range of hedging tools available to your business, and you can work with them to decide which are most suitable for your unique requirements.

OFX Business Money Transfers page highlighting the benefits of transferring AU$20k to USD, showing potential savings compared to other banks. Features a sign-up button, Trustpilot rating, and comparison table with CBA, Westpac, ANZ, and NAB

Are you drastically overpaying by using your bank for international business transfers?

Such a comprehensive and bespoke service might lead you to assume that this comes at a hefty price? Surprisingly, no.

Currency brokers offer bank-beating rates that are amongst the industry’s best. Particularly for businesses doing a lot of international trade, as your exchange rates will get better over time as your transfer volume increases. Currency brokers will also offer solutions that can massively enhance efficiency, like batch payments (often allowing for thousands of payments in a click) and API integration (allowing for easy reporting back to accounting software like Xero or even payment initiation from your companies’ ERP software of choice).

Businesses making small overseas transfers may not find as much value by using a currency broker, and might be able to secure slightly better rates with an online only provider.

Digital wallets

E-wallet companies like the hugely popular PayPal, also serve as an international payment gateway, albeit an expensive one.

Undoubtedly, PayPal’s biggest strength lies in its speed and convenience, providing the recipient also has a PayPal account.

Despite being a cost effective method for domestic transfers, PayPal’s fee structure and exchange rates for sending money overseas makes it one of the most expensive options available to your business (more on this later).

Online money transfer provider

One other viable option, particularly for much smaller businesses, is to consider a money transfer app like Wise.

Australian businesses can use Wise to make payments to more than 80 countries and receive the exact mid-market rate. Wise does charge a small variable fee, but depending on the amount of overseas transfers your business is doing, they may prove to be the most-cost effective option.

Wise Business account interface showing multiple currencies and account details on desktop and mobile devices. Features include instant currency transfers, app integration, and cash flow control.
Wise helps more than 300,000 business’ with their global payments

In addition to being one of the cheapest options, Wise also offers an extremely slick app and banking alternative platform that is not only reliable, but can deliver your money extremely fast! It also offers other useful business features like batch payments and payroll solutions.

The biggest sacrifice you make with an online money transfer provider is not getting a dedicated management service or access to hedging tools. With that said, you can still hold money in 55+ currencies, meaning that you can capitalise on favourable rates by strategically converting money when an exchange rate moves in your favour.

How long does it take? 

International business payments can take anywhere between 1-5 working days, but this will ultimately depend on where your business is sending or receiving money and the provider you choose. 

As a business, it’s important to pay attention to invoice dates to allow ample time for your funds to arrive without breaching the terms of a purchase. Particularly if you’re making a large overseas transfer, you should factor in time for being asked to provide additional information or documents for security reasons, especially if you’re dealing with a new payee. 

One way to potentially speed up the payment process is using a broker that bypasses the SWIFT network, as generally speaking, the fewer intermediaries involved, the less chance there is of delays. Specialist brokers have different relationships and payment networks depending on the country, so it’s always best to ask questions in advance so you can plan ahead, depending on the time you’re quoted by your account manager. 

Wise also has a great reputation for fast business transfers, with 50% of payments either being instant or arriving within one hour.

But what if you don’t have time to register and get verified with a new provider? 

Well, as we mentioned earlier, this is perhaps the only instance when you should consider using your existing bank. Some Australian banks offer an express transfer service, often for a hefty fee, but if you’re left with no other choice, this is a safe and generally reliable option for an emergency business transfer.

How much does it cost?

The true cost of business payments in foreign exchange can vary hugely depending on which route you choose to send your money. 

To summarise, the three main types of cost to watch out for are: 

  • Transfer fees 
  • FX margin 
  • Intermediary bank fees

Not all firms provide the same level of transparency about these costs, so the onus is on you to either query your bank or account manager, or carefully read your payment terms if you’re self-managing your business transfers online. 


As a base guideline, here’s what you can generally expect from each type of provider: 

Banks are one of the most expensive options

On top of transfer fees, banks offer very poor exchange rates, applying anywhere between a 2.5-5% default fx markup on the mid-market rate. Not to mention, bank transfers leave you susceptible to intermediary fees when your funds pass through a third party bank. This can end up costing your business thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars in unnecessary costs. 

Most digital wallets are equally expensive

PayPal being a prime example. Currency conversion fees when paying  for goods or services are 4% alone, and if you’re required to cover merchant fees (in order to pay the full amount due on the invoice), you’d better factor in an additional 3.6%.

Currency brokers and online money transfer apps are the clear leaders when it comes to cost.

These payment providers apply a much smaller FX margin on the exchange rate. Rather than 2.5-5%, you’re generally looking at somewhere between 0.2-2%, depending on the currencies involved, the size of the transfer, and the annual payment volumes of your business.

Unique to Send Payments, businesses will even receive fee-free international transfers. Online money transfer companies will charge small fees, but again, they’re much more favourable than those you’ll find on a bank’s standard tariff sheet. What’s more, working with either of these types of providers means you could swerve intermediary bank fees.

How to manage risk?

Access the right solutions 

When it comes to managing currency risk, you can’t have a proactive strategy unless you have access to the right solutions. Hedging tools are available to all businesses through a specialist currency broker, but banks reserve these tools for only their biggest and most valuable customers. 

Two vanilla solutions that any business can use are: 

Forward contracts – this is the most popular hedging tool out there and it allows your business to lock in an exchange rate for up to 2 years. You’ll know exactly how much you have to pay, regardless of how currency rates move, providing certainty around profit margins and budget planning.

Unless you have an agreed credit line, forward contracts require a down payment from your business, often around 10% of the transfer total. You then settle the remaining 90% upon maturity of the contract (i.e. the date you’ve agreed to buy the foreign currency).

Market orders – If you don’t have a set date specified for your purchase or currency exchange, you can use a limit order to target a higher exchange rate. Your provider will then trigger your transfer automatically once your currency pair hits your desired rate. 

You can also use a stop loss order to protect you from the exchange rate falling. By choosing a worst-case rate to automatically trigger a transfer, you can hold out and hope the currency swings in your favour, with the comfort of knowing your business can still afford the worst case scenario.

TorFX Transfer Options page with a cityscape background, showcasing business currency transfer services. Includes a section for getting a free quote and details about spot contracts for immediate transfers.
Currency brokers offer a whole suite of hedging tools for your business

Get the right advice

The hedging methods we’ve just looked at are a small sample of the tools that can improve how businesses manage their overseas currency risk. 

But, they have to be used effectively. This is why any business serious about its risk management should be working with a currency broker. 

A good strategy not only requires access to great tools, you need great minds to help guide you. By choosing a leading currency broker, your dedicated specialist will also leverage the firm’s market insight, helping to predict currency trends. This will ultimately help your business to utilise your hedging options more effectively.

Who offers the best business international money transfer service? 

Our top-rated provider – TorFX

It’s difficult to rank currency brokers simply by which is the cheapest, as many of the leading firms offer similarly great rates. 

As this article has highlighted, there’s a number of key areas where a firm needs to deliver value, and when it comes to business transfers, the market knowledge and level of bespoke service offered by account managers is hugely important. This is perhaps the biggest driving factor in recommending TorFX as the best currency broker for international b2b payments. 

Their reputation for industry leading customer service is well earned, as they’re the only provider to have been awarded Canstar’s prestigious 5-Star Rating rating six times for ‘outstanding value international money transfers’. They also have an excellent TrustPilot rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars, which is one of the highest ratings in the industry, and based on more than 10,000 verified customer reviews. 

This is largely due to the quality of their account management team and market technicians. These guys really know their stuff! 

You’ll work with a dedicated specialist who’s locally based in Australia, and will provide you with industry leading market insight, positioning your business to minimise FX risk and optimise the timing of your trades. 

As part of its fantastic reputation, TorFX is also known for being extremely safe and processing business transfers extremely fast. The group handles more than 6 billion Australian Dollars in foreign exchange and international payments per annum, and most transfers are completed the same day, or usually no more than two days for exotic currencies. 

Go to TorFX

Multi-currency solutions – Wise, OFX & Send Payments

One thing TorFX does not offer is a multi-currency account solution. 

If you’re expanding into a new territory and need to regularly accept domestic payments in that region, you may want to look for a provider offering multi-currency accounts. These accounts are an international fx payment solution that allow to make and receive overseas payments as local transfers, as well as being able to hold multiple currencies. 

Send Payments page showcasing international money transfer options with 37 different currencies. Features a 'Send, spend, and receive' section, and flags of the USA, UK, China, Brazil, and Australia
Send Payments are a leading currency broker that also offer a multi-currency solution

Why is this beneficial? For several reasons… 

Being able to hold multiple currencies gives you the option to purchase a foreign currency during a favourable currency swing, even if your next purchase in that currency is not imminent. Or, if you make and receive payments in the same overseas currency, you can avoid the unnecessary costs of constantly converting one currency to another.

Being able to receive payments in the sender’s local currency can also be hugely beneficial for other reasons, as it allows you to bypass payment partner gateways such as Amazon or PayPal, who are notorious for charging high fees and poor exchange rates. 

So let’s look briefly at some of the best multi-currency solutions for foreign business payments.

Are you a fairly small business with low trading volumes? 

You may find using an online app like ‘Wise’ to be the most convenient. For smaller amounts, this might also get you the best rate, and you may not require as much market guidance, particularly as you’re able to hold the currency and convert it in your own time. 

If, on the other hand, you are trading a significant amount, then OFX or Send Payments are both great choices as they’re two of the industry’s leading currency brokers. Meaning on top of access to a multi-currency account, you’ll also receive all the other fantastic benefits that come with choosing a top-rated currency broker. 

Go to Wise Go to OFX Go to Send Payments

Best practices

When conducting cross border payments for your business, the following do’s and don’ts should prove useful as they apply to all businesses, regardless of which type of provider you choose. 

Understand regulations: Operating in new international markets means you may have to adhere to different compliance standards and tax laws, which can apply to both sending and receiving transfers. 

This is particularly important if you opt to use an online only service, as you’re essentially on your own. Otherwise, your account manager should be advising you on all important details to ensure your business remains compliant. 

Prioritise safety and security: Sometimes the vast choice of business money transfer companies can be overwhelming. The most crucial part of your research is your due diligence into a company’s history and security. Put simply, reputation matters.

In addition to ensuring your payment provider is well regulated, you can also look at verified reviews to hear from users first hand about their experience. 

All of the companies we’ve referenced in this article have a great track record for safety, but the same can’t be said for all firms in the industry. 

Don’t assume you’re getting the best deal: Too much choice can be daunting, so it might be a comfortable decision to simply stick with your current processes. But the effort involved in researching and registering with a new provider isn’t an overly challenging task. Especially having read this guide, as you now know what you’re looking for. 

You can even register with multiple providers, and effectively run your own trial period with each to see who provides the most superior service and offers the best value.

verdict

Summary

Navigating the world of international b2b payments is not the minefield that it might seem like at first. 

You’re now far better positioned to start reaching out to some industry leading providers, who will gladly take the time to understand your business’ requirements and outline what service they can offer you.  

By looking beyond the convenience of banks and PayPal, you not only stand to make great savings but can also implement a risk management strategy to help protect your business’ exposure to volatile currency markets.

Choosing either a leading currency broker, or online transfer app with a multi-currency solution, positions your business to make the most from the suite of tools designed specifically for international payments.