I wonder why anybody will go into exportation with out knowing how to receive payment from his or her foreign buyer. This aspect of exportation is very important; if not done right can ruin your exportation business – either BIG or small. The consequence of this topic is very significant; that is why I have dedicated this whole post to explain it in detail. However, lot of care needs to be taken here as this is very important to both the seller and the buyer. That is why I am happy to specially welcome you to this post because, I shall be discussing how you can receive your money from your foreign buyer as an exporter.
This is one question; I receive a lot from young exporters. How do I receive payment from a foreign buyer? If that is also the question that runs through your mind – congratulations because we shall be discussing in details how you can receive payment from a foreign buyer in this piece. Quickly, let me divulge to you how you can receive payment from a foreign buyer.
There are so many ways by which you can do this; just that some are safer than the other. However, I will advise you to stick with the one (payment method) that secure you most as the seller; else you trust the buyer. Meanwhile, remember people can change anytime. That is why you should make sure your own investment as a seller is secure at all cost – safety first!
In a domestic (local) sales transaction, the seller may be used to selling on open account (selling on credit),
extending credit, or asking for cash on delivery like Jumia or Konga. It is not like that on international sales transaction; that is why certain methods of payment are designed to give the seller a greater level of protection. This is because it is more difficult for a seller to go to a foreign country or institute a lawsuit; if the buyer refuses to pay.
- Cash In Advance/ Wire Transfers via Banking Channels (MOST SECURE)
When sellers are dealing with buyers who are typically unknown to them, with whom they have no prior payment experience, then the seller may insist that the buyer pay by cash in advance. However, buyers may be unwilling to wire the money to the seller until they are satisfied that the goods have been sent or until after arrival and inspection.
2. Credit Sales (Letter of credit) (MOST SECURE)
Where a seller wants to give the buyer some credit but also to have security of payment, the seller often requires the buyer to obtain a documentary letter of credit from a bank in his or her country (the buyer’s country). The seller may also require that the letter of credit be confirmed by his or her own bank (bank in the seller’s country), which guarantees payment by the buyer’s bank. This letter of credit acts as an obligation of the bank guaranteeing the buyer’s payment. In some cases, however, the buyer will be unable to obtain a letter of credit, for example, because the buyer’s bank does not feel comfortable with the buyer’s financial solvency. Furthermore, issuance
of letters of credit involves the payment of bank fees, which are normally paid for by the buyer, and the buyer usually does not wish to incur such expenses in addition to the cost of purchasing the goods.
This method is mostly used when the seller is anxious to make the sale or if other competitors are willing to offer more liberal payment terms, the seller may be forced to give up a letter of credit and agree to make the sale on some
other, less secure, method of payment.
3. Draft Documentary/Document Against Payment (D/P) (SECURE)
The next best method of payment is by sight draft documentary collection, commonly known as documents against payment or D/P transactions. In this case, the exporter uses the services of a bank to effect payment. The seller will ship the goods, and the bill of lading and a draft (that is, a document like a check in the amount of the
sale drawn on the buyer which is payable to the seller) will be forwarded to the seller’s bank. The seller’s bank will forward such documents to the buyer’s bank in the foreign country (sometimes the seller or its freight forwarder
sends the documents directly to the foreign bank—this is known as Direct Collection), and the foreign bank will collect payment from the buyer prior to the time that the goods arrive. If payment is not made by the buyer, the correspondent bank does not release the bill of lading to the buyer, and the buyer will be unable to take possession
of the goods or clear customs. Direct collections are often used for air shipments to avoid delays through the seller’s bank and, also, because air waybills are non-negotiable.
4. Time Draft/Document Against Acceptance (D/A) (LESS SECURE)
The next least secure payment method is to utilize a time draft, commonly known as documents against acceptance or D/A transactions. Like the sight draft transaction, the bill of lading and time draft are forwarded through banking channels, but the buyer agrees to make payment within a certain number of days (for example, 30 to 180) after she receives and accepts the draft. Normally, this permits the buyer to obtain possession of the goods and may give the buyer enough time to resell them before her obligation to pay comes due. However, documents against acceptance transactions are a significantly greater risk for the seller because, if the buyer does not pay at the promised time, the seller’s only recourse is to file a lawsuit—the goods have already been released to the buyer.
5. Open Account (Payment on Delivery) (LESS SECURE)
The least secure payment method is sale on open account, where the seller makes the sale and the shipment by forwarding the bill of lading and a commercial invoice directly to the buyer for payment. Because the bill of lading is sent directly to the buyer, once it leaves the possession of the seller, the seller will be unable to control what happens to the goods and the buyer will be able to obtain the goods whether or not payment is made.
6. Counter trade (LESS SECURE)
Another method of payment that may arise in international sales is counter trade. Counter trade describes a variety of practices, such as barter (an exchange of goods), counter purchase (where the seller must agree to purchase a certain amount from the buyer or from another seller in the buyer’s country), or offset (where the seller must
reinvest some of the sales profits in the buyer’s country).
These are the most common ways by which you can transact business internationally. That is why it is better you ask your buyer how he or she will like to pay you, and make sure you agreed on a particular mode of payment before sending out your goods as an exporter.
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