Are All Offshore Merchant Accounts High Risk?


If you’re a business that sells products and services online, then you need an online merchant account. Without a merchant account, you cannot accept payments over the internet. During your search for a reliable merchant account provider, you may have come across the term “offshore merchant account.” Offshore merchant accounts often have a negative connotation; many think of them as accounts reserved for high-risk businesses that can’t get approved for a merchant account within their home country.

While some offshore merchant account providers do specifically cater to high-risk businesses, such as gambling or auctions, this isn’t always the case. An offshore merchant account is simply an account that allows merchants to accept online credit card payments and is established with a bank in a country outside of their home country. Merchants across all industries can utilize an offshore merchant account and reap its benefits.

Also referred to as an international merchant account, an offshore merchant account is especially beneficial for multi-national merchants. Merchants who sell products to customers in multiple countries must deliver real-time credit card processing in their customers’ local currencies. They must also work with banks in other countries for safe and secure credit card processing. Offshore merchant accounts allow merchants to achieve these key objectives.

Choosing an Offshore Merchant Account

There are tons of international merchant account providers out there. To find one that’s best suited for your business, consider the following:

  • Payment Gateway. Accepting payments over the internet not only requires a merchant account, but also a payment gateway. Your merchant account provider should also offer you an international payment gateway for real-time online payment processing.
  • Multi-currency processing. An international merchant account provider enables you to process payments in your customers’ local currencies. If you sell outside your home country, consider a merchant account provider that offers multi-currency processing in the countries where you operate. Also consider the regions where you hope to expand in the future.
  • Security. Anti-fraud protection like 3D Secure, Address Verification Services (AVS), Card ID Verification (CVC) and other pre-authorization tools are important to ensure secure credit card processing and reduce chargebacks.

As you can see, an offshore merchant account does not translate to high risk. Some merchants may refer to their accounts in certain jurisdictions as offshore, while those same accounts are considered onshore by other merchants. It depends where the merchant operates.  Working with a reliable international merchant account provider allows your business to deliver secure credit card processing and provides opportunities for your business to grow.