What Are Some of the Hidden Costs of Billing and Payments?

If your website has significant cross-border traffic, but conversion rates for those traffic sources are low, it’s time to focus on monetizing that international traffic. But to do that effectively and efficiently, you have to consider what it takes to do that.

It’s virtually impossible for digital companies to handle every aspect of billing and payment in-house, so finding the right solutions provider is crucial to growing your revenue while lowering total costs to your business. You have some choices to make as far as this is concerned: You can use point solutions that address each piece of the puzzle individually or find more robust solutions that provide a cohesive ecosystem of tools that help you reach your goals.

To give you some context for some of the costs you might not expect in the area of billing and payments, we wanted to focus on the payment processing capabilities required to grow online revenue and the development resources needed to make sure everything is functioning smoothly.

Payment Processing: Important Considerations

Merchant of Record (MoR)

Managing relationships with payment processors, submitting associated credit card fees, and handling other administrative tasks around processing online transactions all have legal implications that, by default, fall on your business’s plate. Not all vendors will assume responsibility on your behalf as your merchant of record (MoR). To avoid significant fines, you would need to comply with PCI DSS standards and calculate, collect and remit taxes to relevant authorities.

Currencies and Payment Methods

To sell effectively in any market, you need to support your customers’ preferred currencies and payment methods. It’s just as important to not display any type of payment method that is irrelevant to that customer. It makes for a poor customer experience, and our data proves that offering only relevant payment methods raises conversion rates, even when those payments aren’t ultimately chosen by customers.

Relationships With Merchant Banks and Payment Service Providers (PSPs)

Negotiating and maintaining relationships with multiple entities can get complicated and expensive. And unlike a billing provider that has already has these relationships in place, you’ll need to build yours from scratch.

Country-Specific Payment Legislation

Some countries have passed laws that prevent money from leaving their borders. For example, in Brazil, your business can’t accept Brazilian real unless you have a processor and entity located within the country. If your legal business address is located anywhere governed by EU legislation, you are required to display an order confirmation page for your customers before they complete checkout. Because this is yet another opportunity for your European customers to abandon their cart, being aware of this page and optimizing it is critical for maximizing revenue.


A billing provider that acts as your merchant of record will manage your relationships with multiple merchant banks and PSPs as well as record and reconcile all of your transaction data. And because that provider has multiple clients, their transaction volume is much higher than yours. This means your business benefits from lower fees from PSPs. They’ll also support a plethora of regional payment methods and currencies, which you’ll require in order to optimize pricing for new markets.

Development and Integration: Important Considerations

Developer Resource Management

Will developers who are always busy with billing tasks have time to work on advancing your core service? It’s not likely, and your business could end up in the unfortunate position of having to delay improvements to your offering because billing takes up too much bandwidth. Or vice versa, you miss out on a lot of revenue opportunities because you don’t have the developer resources to implement or maintain your current billing solution.

Integration With Existing Business Systems

Consolidating customer data from your CRM, ERP, email platform and web analytics with your billing solution is necessary for a holistic look at your business performance — but it’s a complex development effort. As you research options for providers, make sure you understand how easily those providers integrate with your existing systems and what level of support they provide.

Transmitting Customer Data

There are serious risks with transmitting customer data between platforms, and your development team needs to know how to comply with ever-changing global privacy regulations. For example, do you support social sharing? If so, you should know that in August 2011, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) mandated the removal of post-purchase social sharing for online purchases in the EU. The very thing that increases customer acquisition in the U.S. can actually cost your business €50,000 in Europe!

Expansion Into New Markets

In order to grow your business, you need development resources focused not only on your current ecommerce efforts but also on global expansion. Each new market has its own set of regional specifications that require custom development.


In addition to freeing up developers to work on your core offering, a billing provider should be able to achieve full integration with your systems in a matter of weeks, rapidly accelerating your time-to-market. They will also process orders quickly (providing a positive customer experience) and securely transmit data in accordance with global privacy regulations.

To learn more about the hidden costs of global billing, check out our interactive microsite.