July 8, 2010, 3:18 PM

U.K. retailers feel ill-prepared to handle international payments

U.K. online merchants that want to expand abroad face a variety of payment schemes.  

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Online merchants in the United Kingdom that want to expand internationally face obstacles because of the multitude of payment systems used throughout Europe, according to a new survey conducted for Chase Paymentech Europe Ltd., a merchant acquirer and payment processor.

About 30% of 200 U.K. businesses surveyed said they had international growth plans within the next two years but did not have the payment systems in place to properly support European customers.

77% of U.K. merchants already trading internationally also said their payments systems were not set up to meet the demands of European customers, the survey found. Organizations that expanded internationally via a merger or acquisition reported even worse problems with payment systems—86% said their card-not-present processing was fragmented, making operating outside the U.K. more challenging and expensive.

Cross-border sales require merchants to accept a wide number of methods of payments, including those from Visa Inc., MasterCard Worldwide, MasterCard’s Maestro debit system, American Express Co. and direct debit. Merchants also sometimes must handle regional offerings, such as ELV in Germany and iDeal in the Netherlands. As a result, merchants often must work with multiple acquirers to trade in a range of markets or currencies, the study says

“There is no doubt that e-commerce remains the most profitable channel for retailers but it does come with its own challenges, especially as organizations look to make the move beyond their domestic market,” says Shane Fitzpatrick, president and managing director, Chase Paymentech Europe. “Having a single payment system in place which allows an organization to trade in multiple markets in a wide range of currencies is advantageous in keeping overheads low, helping increase checkout conversion rates and providing customers with a first-class experience.”

The survey, conducted by research company Dynamic Markets earlier this year, included merchants across all industries that conduct some card-not-present sales. The survey group included about 30% from large companies, with 250+ employees; 34% from mid-sized companies, with 50 to 249 employees; and the rest from small organizations, with 11 to 49 employees.

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