Credit card processing has improved dramatically in the last decade or so, but a number of issues still plague certain types of businesses. Often an offshore merchant account can prove to be a solution. Before we get into why you should consider an offshore merchant account, here are a few benefits:

  • Multiple currency payments made easy.
  • Tax + privacy benefits of offshore.
  • Offshore merchant accounts are more accepting of high-risk industries.
  • Offshore merchant accounts often have huge volume caps.

To be clear, an offshore merchant account is simply a payment processing solution that’s located outside the jurisdictions of the United States. If any of the headlines in hold pertain to you and/or your business, you may want to consider an offshore merchant account.

1. You Have A Poor Credit Score

If the owner of a business has poor credit or history of a high chargeback rate (even from a past business), they will often have trouble being approved for a US or EU merchant account.

2. You’re A “High Risk” Business

If you’re considered a “high risk” business, banks will most likely hesitate to process your customers’ transactions. “High risk” industries are likely to be approved and have fewer hassles with offshore processors than with major western processors; the number of industries considered “high risk” might surprise you. Here are a few:

  • Airlines or airplane charters
  • Multi-currency sales
  • Merchants with poor credit
  • Vitamin and supplement sales (i.e., diet pills, prescription pills, health supplements, pharmacy products)
  • SEO services
  • Merchants on the Terminated Merchant File (TMF) or MATCH List
  • All sexually-oriented or pornographic merchants: (i.e., companion or escort services, adult telephone conversations, adult bookstores, dating services, online adult membership or matchmaker services, adult paraphernalia or toys)
  • Annual contracts
  • Antiques
  • Attorney referral services
  • Auctions
  • Automotive brokers
  • Bankruptcy attorneys
  • Brokering Casinos, gambling or gaming
  • Cigarettes, e-cigarettes, or vape shops
  • Coins, collectible currency, or autographed collectibles
  • Collection agencies
  • Coupons or rewards-points programs
  • Credit protection, counseling, or debt repair services
  • Debt collection services
  • Discount health or medical care programs
  • eBooks (copyrighted material)
  • Electronics Event ticket brokers (unlicensed or non-registered (i.e., Stub Hub-type merchants))
  • Exporting services (non-US based)
  • Extended warranty companies
  • Fantasy sports websites
  • Federal Firearms License (FFL) dealers
  • Finance brokers, financial consulting, or loan modification services
  • Furniture sellers
  • Indirect financial consulting (i.e., “How to Save Money by Lowering Your Electric Bill”)
  • Financial planning, strategy or advising
  • High average ticket sales
  • “How-To”-type websites (i.e., “Learn how to train rabbits”)
  • Horoscopes, astrology or psychic services, fortune tellers
  • Hypnotists or self-hypnosis services
  • International merchants (non-US based) operating in the United States
  • International shipping, cargo, or import/export
  • Investment firms, strategy, or books
  • Life coaching
  • Lingerie sales
  • Lotteries or sweepstakes
  • Magazine sales and subscriptions
  • Mail or telephone order sales
  • Membership organizations (contracts over 12 months)
  • Modeling or talent agencies
  • Multi-level marketing (MLM) sales tactics
  • Music, movie, or software downloads or uploads (i.e., copyrighted digital products)
  • Non-US citizens doing business in the United States
  • Prepaid calling cards
  • Prepaid debit cards
  • Real estate
  • Replica handbags, watches, wallets, sunglasses, etc.
  • Self-defense, pepper spray, mace, etc.
  • Sports forecasting or odds-making/betting
  • Telecommunications
  • Telemarketing services
  • Telephone companies
  • Third-party processing, factoring merchants (i.e., payment processors, vacation rental brokers)
  • Time-shares or time-share advertising
  • Tour operators
  • Travel clubs, services, or agencies
  • Vacation planners
  • Vacation rentals (unless the property is owned by the merchant)
  • VoIP services
3. You Want Tax And Privacy Benefits

Often, basing your company offshore will also mean you only need to pay taxes in the offshore jurisdiction. Care needs to be taken in this process, however, since oversights can wash away this advantage. The location of your servers is a good example, make sure they are in “offshore” jurisdictions! Obviously, when you pay yourself a salary, the tax requirements of your home jurisdiction will apply; please get a lawyer to advise on your specific situation so you don’t break any laws.

4. You Have a Diverse Set of Customers

Offshore processors can often simplify the process of accepting different currencies and aggregating them into one deposit to your bank. This will not only save time but will often be cheaper than exchanging currencies yourself. Many western processors have a limited set of currencies they support as well; Paypal, for example, only supports about 25 currencies. If you frequently do business in a less common currency, an offshore processor may be your best (or only) option.

5. You Plan to Process High Ticket Items or a Large Number of Payments

Offshore merchant accounts often have very generous volume caps so you’ll likely have an easier time working with offshore processors as a result. Major western processors may want to conduct much more due diligence on you, which is fair enough, except that such a process may take a long time and cause you to miss out on sales. Often, this process isn’t outlined clearly when you first sign up with a processor, so your first indication that you need to provide additional information about your business will come when the processor refuses to pay out the thousands of dollars of purchases you received (and that you might need to conduct your business and fulfill those orders).

6. You Want to Protect Your Assets!

We’re saving the best for last here. Did you know that the U.S. is the most litigious country in the world? According to Clements Worldwide, the U.S. has one lawyer for every 300 people. Imagine that you own a restaurant that sells burgers and a customer sues you because your coffee was too hot. It’s probably fine if you’re a giant burger chain but what if you’re a small business? Even if you win the lawsuit, you’re going to waste your limited resources on such a frivolous cause. Having an offshore merchant account decreases your risks of these lawsuits by making it more challenging for others to sue you.

Are you ready to open an offshore merchant account? Contact us today to learn how. Belize features a climate conducive to offshore banking, international business companies (IBCs), limited liability companies (LLCs), shelf companies, offshore foundations, offshore trusts, and other international financial mechanisms that provide a confidential, safe home for your money. Small wonder that Belize is considered one of the best countries for offshore accounts and offshore banking in the world.

If you have any questions about moving your money to Belize or establishing a Belize offshore company, please contact us today.