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For a large number of small to medium businesses here in Hong Kong, cross-border or international commerce is a large part of their day-to-day operations. This includes both selling and buying from international counterparties. What this means for businesses, is that they will constantly face issues with FX, remittance, transfers and dealing with foreign payment costs that are not always be clear. So it becomes important to understand what the options are when it comes to sending money overseas for business purposes.

Cross Border Payment Options for SMEs for Hong Kong

Key concerns from SMEs are:

  • High-margin foreign exchange (FX) rates: Many banks and money transfer operators (MTOs) add margins of 2%-11% and hidden fees to their FX rates
  • Slow transfers: After submitting all the documents, the recipient has to wait for three to five business days to receive the money.
  • Complicated procedure: Currently, many paper-based documents need to be submitted by banks for cross-border remittance.

Some of these complications have deterred purchasing from overseas, even though there may be better supplier/vendor options out there, and therefore limiting competitive advantages. Removing these frictions will serve as a benefit for all SMEs.

Today we will examine specifically sending payments out of Hong Kong, both traditional options as well as newer technologies.

Telegraphic Transfers

This is the most traditional option for businesses today. Simply summarized, it is equivalent of a domestic bank transfer, but to an overseas account. You would initiate the transfer via online banking through your bank account, or in person at a branch. Funds are debited immediately from your account, and would take anywhere between 1-5 business days to arrive in your recipient's account. The information is relayed through the SWIFT network, so you’ll need the SWIFT code for the bank you’re sending to (unlike the simple 3 digit bank code for Hong Kong).

The FX rate and fees will be determined by your bank. So there is no shopping around for the best rate here. There will be a TT fee, which is usually a flat fee, from both the bank you’re sending from, as well as the bank you’re sending to. As an illustrative example, sending USD via telegraphic transfer will incur around ~200HKD in fees from HSBC, and another ~200HKD from the other bank. Either you accept or find another way to transfer. This is an expensive option for a lot of small businesses, but more and more are moving away because of better options.

Online Remittance Services

Increasingly, there are number of other online services out there that perform FX and remittance digitally, usually at lower costs than the traditional bank route. Some of the bigger names include Transferwise, Airwallex, WorldFirst, WorldRemit etc.. The list is getting longer every day. These FX tech companies have been around long enough to refine their credibility as well service offerings to allow you to make payments all around the world.

From a functionality perspective, it’s not too different from a traditional TT from your bank account. There is an extra step of you sending the funds first to the service provider’s account, and then the service provider will remit the funds out to the end recipient. While this may seem cumbersome, you are only making a domestic payment, and the FX and remittance will all be handled by the provider.

Usually this means a lower fee (at least on the fixed cost side), and you have choices on which service provider provides the best FX rates. Some may specialize in certain currencies options. For example sending HKD to USD may be cheaper with Platform A, but sending HKD to GBP will be cheaper with Platform B. Choose and compare the best for your payment.

Better yet, some of these providers also offer the ability to keeping a fund balance with them. At first glance it may not make sense to keep money parked in a virtual balance, but they will offer you better FX rates in return.

International Trade Financing

Exactly what the term sounds like, trade finance allows you to make payments for trade goods using financing from a third-party. The third party will pay in advance to your international supplier, and when you are able to gather sufficient cash to complete the repayment, you will then settle the amount advanced.

However, this is not always the easiest option; Globally over half of trade finance requests by SMEs are rejected, according to the World Trade Organization. Traditionally, trade finance providers tend to look at the balance sheet and financials of the borrower. SMEs are typically at a disadvantage compared with big companies.

This type of cross-border payment solution takes time to build, requiring a relationship with a trade finance provider, who knows your business well enough to be comfortable providing short-term credit.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are becoming more and more widely accepted by suppliers and vendors overseas, as they now want to provide more options to their buyers to pay quicker and more easily. When it is accepted, the payment process is quite simple because of the digital nature of card payments online, and also allows the payer to benefit from 30-58 days of deferred cash payment, using credit. But there is still the aspect of FX though, because the credit card issuers will usually charge a 2% FX mark-up from standard market rates.

However, there are ways to circumvent the higher FX fees. One option is look for certain type of credit cards that charge no extra foreign transaction fees. These are more common the US and UK, offered by banks like Chase but  will eventually also become more popular here in HK. Another option is to combine using your credit card with online remittance services mentioned earlier. By sending local currency to a service provider via a credit card and then they will provide the FX and international payment. If you are looking for an option to make payments directly through your credit card, Reap’s platform would also be able to help you do that in one step.


對於大部分在香港的中小企而言,跨境或環球商務是它們日常營運的一個重要部分。這包括與全球不同的生意夥伴做買賣交易,同時意味著中小企要不斷面對兌換外匯、匯款、轉賬和處理海外費用等問題,而當中牽涉的費用往往會含糊不清,令人易失預算。因此,在處理商務的層面來說,了解進行海外匯款時有那些選項就變得非常重要了。

中小企在香港可選擇的跨境支付途徑

中小企關注的重點是:

  • 兌換外匯 (FX)時的溢價過高:許多銀行和匯款營運商(MTO)在兌外匯時會加收2%-11%的溢價作利潤,同時還會附加額外的手續費。
  • 轉賬緩慢:提交所有文件後,收款人需等待三至五個工作日方能收到款項。
  • 程序繁複:現時,一般銀行都需要提交大量文件方能執行跨境匯款的指示。

儘管你可能在海外找到更好的材料供應商/產品供應商希望可以進一步合作,但以上種種情況往往會阻礙你進行海外採購的信心,變相削弱你的競爭優勢。因此,排除這些障礙對中小企來說絕對有利。

今天我們將專門探討一下從香港匯出款項的方法,包括了傳統途徑也包括了最新的技術。

電匯

這是現時企業最常用的選擇。簡單而言,它的做法等同做境內銀行轉賬,只是轉賬的賬戶是海外賬戶而已。你可以透過網上銀行從你的賬戶轉賬,又或者親身到分行辦理。資金會即時從你的賬戶中扣除,並且需要等1-5個工作天方能到達你的收款人賬戶。電匯指示是透過SWIFT網絡進行轉發,因此你需要收款銀行提供的SWIFT代碼方能轉賬(與香港使用的3個位銀行代碼不同)。

進行電匯時,外匯匯率和費用是由你的銀行決定。所以你並沒有主導權,不能比較不同銀行的外匯價格來搜尋最佳匯價。而且做電匯時,不論是你做轉賬的銀行,抑或是收款人的銀行都會從你發送的銀碼中收取電匯手續費,這費用一般是固定的定額服務費。舉一個例子說明︰透過匯豐銀行以電匯方式發送美元到海外賬戶,每一次匯豐將收取約港幣200元的手續費,而收款銀行亦會收取約港幣200元的費用。你只可以選擇接受或找尋另一種轉賬方式。但對於許多小企業來說,這是一個昂貴的選擇。坊間其實有更多更好的轉賬途徑,因而越來越多小企業正轉用其他方式進行海外轉賬。

網上匯款服務

隨著市場發展,越來越多兌換外匯和進行匯款的網上服務供應商應運而生,它們一般比傳統銀行的收費相宜。比較有名的平台包括︰ Transferwise, Airwallex, WorldFirst, WorldRemit 等。服務商的名單每天都在遞增,特別是這些知名的外匯科技公司已經屹立了一段時間,信譽良好且服務範圍廣泛,足以應付你在全世界不同角落的支付需要。

從功能上看,它與你在銀行做傳統電匯沒有太大區別。最大的分別是你要先將資金匯到這些網上平台,然後再由他們將資金匯出予最終的收款人。雖然看起來很麻煩,但其實你只是進行了境內匯款,當中的外匯兌換和海外匯款程序都是由網絡服務商來處理。


使用這些網上匯款平台一般來說費用都較低(至少它們只收取固定費用),而你亦有權按外匯匯率來選擇最佳匯價的服務供應商。有些平台可能專注於兌換某種貨幣,價格會更具競爭力。例如,使用平台A發送港元作美元匯款可能會比較便宜,但是使用平台B將港元轉至英鎊匯出可能價格會較優惠。你可以選擇、比較,從而選出最佳的付款方式。

更理想的是,有部份服務供應商還會讓你擺放資金在它們的平台之上。驟眼一看,將存款結餘鎖住在虛擬網絡的世界似乎於理不合,但這樣做的好處是服務供應商會為你提供更佳的外匯匯價作為回報。

國際貿易融資

顧名思義,貿易融資是讓你從第三方籌組資金,用來支付貨款。第三方會提前繳款予你的海外供應商,當你有足夠的現金作周轉時再結清之前借用的款項。

可是,這方案往往不容易實行,根據世界貿易組織的數據指出,全球有超過一半的中小企在申請貿易融資時遭到拒絕。傳統上,貿易融資的供應商傾向查看借款人的資產負債表和財務狀況。與大公司相比,中小企往往處於劣勢。

這種跨境支付方案需要長時間與貿易融資供應商建立互信關係,他們要非常了解你的業務方能有信心為你提供短期信貸。

信用卡

信用卡越來越被海外的材料供應商和產品供應商所接納,因為供應商亦希望為買家提供更多選擇,以更快捷更簡易的方法輕鬆付款。信用卡作為一種電子貨幣,一旦交易被接納,整個支付流程會相對簡單流暢,而且它還允許付款人運用信用額,在實際付款前讓現金可以多留在手達30-58天之久。但是,以信用卡繳付海外賬項依然要面對外匯問題,因為信用卡的發卡銀行一般會從標準市場的外匯價格上再收取2%的溢價作手續費。

然而,要避免支付高昂的外匯費用其實另有辦法。其中一個方法是選用某些在進行外幣交易時不會收取額外費用的信用卡。這類信用卡在美國和英國較為常見,例如大通銀行亦有提供,相信在不久的將來在香港也會日趨普及。另一個方法是運用你的信用卡於較早前提到的網上匯款平台使用。透過信用卡向網上匯款平台發送本地貨幣,然後它們再為你提供外匯以進行海外支賬。如果你正在搜尋不同的方案,希望能更靈活地運用你的信用卡作直接支付之用,Reap的平台可以幫到你輕輕鬆鬆一步到位。

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