Applying for an Offshore Merchant Account
Important Note:This information is for educational purposes only. Advantage Processors has no trouble getting merchant accounts setup for high risk and overseas credit card processing solutions for your business. We generally have a solution for everyone and the easiest way to get started is to click here and fill out our simple merchant application form to get started.
Understanding Offshore Credit Card Processing
With the advent of the internet and e-commerce, you are no longer limited in you choice of who to do business with, including what businesses will handle your financial transactions. You have a wider choice of national banks as well as international. In fact, international merchant accounts are often the only option to consider for some high-risk merchants. A business is considered high-risk when examining its chargeback history and the likelihood of its closing its doors and 'dissapearing' overnight, leaving the financial institution liable for the charges. Offshore financial institutions are not bound by U.S. Visa and Mastercard regulations and so have less strict thresholds governing processing volumes and chargebacks and this works to offset some of the liability risks associated with high rates of chargebacks, credit card fraud, and other disputes. In addition you are not subject to the same restrictions in business transactions as institutions under onshore law.
Often there is a lot of red tape and costly administrative tasks associated with conducting certain types of business within the U.S., and money and time can be saved by using an offshore account. Unfortunately, U.S. financial institutions are often not willing to deal with the complications and risks associated with such businesses as gambling sites, adult entertainment, horoscope and psychic readings, pharmacies, travel sites, arranged marriage sites, and so on. Also, U.S. banks often only accept limited types of credit cards such as to accept credit cards for only Visa and Mastercard, and they don't accept non-U.S. money denominations. This can be limiting to any business whether they are high-risk or not. Having the capability of accepting foreign forms of credit and denominations is extremely advantageous to you when you are trying to grow your international presence.
One major difference when using onshore merchant accounts is the application requirements of U.S. banks. Often they require a large application fee or application deposit. Some banks will not even look at your application unless your business has been operating for two years or more. U.S. banks sometimes act as if they are doing you a favor by doing business with you, when it used to be the other way around. Because banks are worried about fraud and money laundering schemes, some U.S. banks will freeze or close your accounts if you suddenly experience a shift in your volume of sales. With most merchant account services there is no transaction minimums or maximums. They are not bound by the same laws and regulations governing onshore financial transactions, but they are still legal.
You are often rewarded with better customer service because the overseas banks know they are competing with more familiar onshore banks and they have to use every form of quality service they know of to ensure you like their company better than the one you may already be familiar with. You are assured maximum privacy while still keeping within the confines of the law. You can benefit from more favorable business legislation in other countries, especially if you are incorporated in another country rather than the U.S. An overseas account is also helpful when you want to separate your high-risk card transactions from lower rate risk transactions that may occur within the same company.
When selecting an offshore banking institution you should consider the state of the government of that country and what the laws are regarding financial institutions in that country. Often a government will not step in to bail out a bank in the event of a crisis and the bank may not be insured like banks are FDIC insured in the U.S. Obtaining quality insurance is one of the main reasons U.S. businesses may be hesitant to take their business offshore. You should make sure the laws of that country prohibit the exposure of customer information and have ethical privacy standards. Some reporting measures may be required by the U.S. government- it is best you check with an accountant or lawyer before setting up an international account to make sure you are operating within the confines of the law. You should never go offshore to avoid your creditors, liability, or to evade paying taxes.