Perhaps you've been paying your overseas vendors in U.S. dollars for decades and they've never complained. Your company may even require that international payments be denominated in U.S. dollars, a common treasury policy among American businesses buying from abroad. However, paying invoices in foreign currency could save you money and effort. The potential embedded costs of dealing in U.S. dollars are often overlooked and misconceptions abound over the risks of foreign currencies.
Of course, there are some instances when paying in U.S. dollars is efficient. Certain industries have dollar-functional supply chains where currency conversion shouldn’t occur. Multinational vendors may want U.S. dollars for their own operations, or they may have an arrangement to convert currencies via a foreign exchange hedging program. But if these considerations don't apply to your business, there may be benefits to changing your approach.
Here’s what to think about when deciding which invoice currency to use with overseas vendors.
When you make a payment in U.S. dollars, your bank immediately withdraws the funds from your account. This ensures the dollars are sent to the vendor’s bank right away. By contrast, when you make a cross-border payment, funds are not wired until they've been converted from dollars to the vendor’s currency. Your financial institution may be willing to delay withdrawing the dollars from your account until the conversion is complete, which could take up to two business days. Two days of funds availability can be meaningful in terms of earnings credit and working capital availability.
Your vendor may experience faster payments and an easier account reconciliation process if you choose to pay in their local currency. When supplier payments are made in U.S. dollars, the vendor’s financial institution automatically converts the payment to the currency of the receiving account, often without contacting the recipient. This could create two challenges for your vendor’s accounts receivable (A/R) team:
Case study: Importing from China
A wholesale distributor based in the southeastern U.S. imported machine tools from China for more than 80 years and always paid in U.S. dollars. However, beginning in 2010, the internationalization of the Chinese currency allowed for the distributor to make payments in CNH, the Chinese currency traded outside of mainland China. By agreeing to pay in CNH, the wholesale distributor was able to negotiate more favorable pricing from their vendor.
Looking for ways to improve your vendor payments and handle invoice currency differently? Contact your banking relationship team to learn more about our cross border payment solutions and the international expertise that powers our people and products.
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