Cross-border trade is a key driver of the South African economy, accounting for over half of the country’s total exports. However, South African exporters face several challenges in receiving cross-border payments, including high transaction fees, currency conversion issues, and difficulties in verifying the identity of buyers.

According to a survey conducted by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) in 2021, the high cost of cross-border payments was identified as a significant challenge by 35% of exporting companies in South Africa.

Another challenge is the time it takes to process cross-border payments. According to the same SACCI survey, 29% of exporting companies identified delays in payment processing as a challenge. These delays can be caused by a range of factors, including payment intermediaries, regulatory requirements, and compliance checks.

There are several strategies that exporters can implement to enhance global payments, decrease financial risk, and streamline their financial operations. This includes staying informed, partnering with an innovative payment provider, and diversifying to improve overall efficiency of cross-border payments.

Introduce digital diversification.

A focal point of an exporters global payments strategy is to diversify payment methods, particularly in emerging markets like South Africa where there is a reliance on cash or cheques as the most common use of payment. While this is favoured, it leaves exporters at risk of not receiving payments, or delays which can impact cash flow or result in shipping delays.

Using electronic transfers and digital platforms, which allow for faster, safer, and tracked payments can be a smart way to improve exporting.

For exporters, operating globally means keeping abreast of the economic and political environments of the jurisdictions they operate in is essential. Instability and currency fluctuations in emerging markets can lead to border problems, cash flow issues, and delays in receiving money safely and on time.

Ola Oyetayo, CEO of Verto, says being informed can help a business be adaptable and mitigate any potential risk. “Some steps to do so may be setting news alerts on your computer or phone, working with local partners who can keep you informed, or working with a payments provider that understands these risks.

“At Verto, we can help mitigate currency fluctuations for our customers with our Marketplace, which allows businesses to set their own FX rate and our competitive FX rates to always stay ahead of the market. In addition, our multi-currency wallets can hold funds in up to 50 currencies, enabling businesses to lock in favourable exchange rates,” he notes.

A step towards better payments may lie with who the payments providers are, especially as exporters can work in markets that they are unfamiliar with, and that have differing regulations, which may result in the risk of not being financially compliant. Using an innovative global payments provider can ensure exporters are provided with a variety of services such as global compliance support, fraud prevention and detection, and currency conversion.

There are numerous ways for exporters to optimise their cross-border payments. By implementing several improvements to their strategies, financial risk can be reduced and payment methods can be diversified, giving businesses more confidence and control over their cross-border payments.