Does your payment land in the correct currency account?

16/07/2019

| 16-07-2019 | by Pieter de Kiewit |

Recently I received signals from a treasurer working in a mid-sized company about payments in various currencies landing on the wrong account. In a payment of USD 1 million, this could lead to extra cost of about USD 9,000! This results in extra cost and should be avoided…

In most SMEs in Europe a payment from US clients will be transferred in US dollars and lands in EURO’s. Banks facilitate this process and their fees consist of two parts:

  1. a transaction fee that is often a fixed fee or maximized percentage of the amount transferred
  2. a price to make Euro’s out of US dollars, following a conversion rate (the price you pay for buying dollars is different from the sell price, the difference is called “the spread”).

If you receive payments in US dollars regularly, you can consider opening a US dollar bank account. Therefore, you will avoid constant payment of the conversion rate. This is most relevant when you also make payments from this account. All big banks offer bank accounts in various currencies as a paid service.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the signals that I received: A foreign client made a payment in dollars with his dollar account. He transferred the dollars to the Euro account of my contact. This was all documented. Nevertheless, the bank charged transaction and conversion fees. Luckily this was discovered by my contact. After informing the bank about this issue, the bank repaired it all.

There could be various reasons why this happened. We all know that the global IT landscape in traditional banks consists of many different systems of a different age. A network problem could be a possible issue. The likelihood of this happening again is high, so be aware! Also, although we do not like this, it could be that this payment was handled manually. A mistake is easily made, hopefully not too frequent. It would be the worst case scenario when banks manipulate payments in order to claim fees. Let’s assume this is not the case.

The point I want to make: check if payments land on the proper currency account or it will cost you!

Any of you encountered misrouted payments?

PS From my own experience: in your ebanking environment, the default currency is not necessarily the currency the account is in. My GBP account had EURO as default currency…

Pieter de Kiewit
Owner Treasurer Search

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