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Payment Options for International Startups


No matter what country you’re based in, when expanding to an international customer base, figuring out payments can be a pain. While it’s easy for American customers to pay American companies, if you’re based outside of the U.S., or you’re trying to collect payments from the billions of people who aren’t American, your options become very limited.

Even if you’re only focused on the domestic market for the time being, many of the larger startups have stressed the importance of setting yourself up for global success from the very beginning. If you have the proper framework in place, the process of going international is much less daunting, and of course, much easier.

We looked into services that support international payments, and found 5 great companies that can help. The countries, fees, and features each of these offers is different from the next, so let’s break it down.


PayPal is the first thing most of us think of when thinking about online payments, and for good reason: it’s ubiquitous, easy to use, and as a result, people all over the world depend on it. But while it’s free (and simple) for personal use, it gets a bit expensive and complicated when using it for business.

Unfortunately, while PayPal accepts payments from across the world, you need to have a U.S. bank account to withdraw the money. Or, you can use your PayPal balance to pay for things online. This makes it a good option for companies located in the U.S., as they can support customers from all over the world, but it won’t work for companies located outside of the U.S.

Countries payments can be sent from: 203

Currencies accepted: 26

Forms of payment: Any major credit card, or a customer’s PayPal account.

Who can use it: Using a U.S. bank account or keeping it in your PayPal account to pay for other purchases.

Fees (per transaction): Domestic: 2.9% + $0.30

International: 3.9% plus fixed fee based on currency

Implementation: Can integrate PayPal into your checkout flow. A customer can pay with their PayPal account, or can enter a credit card that PayPal will process.


Braintree is owned by PayPal, but there are a few key differences. Braintree is meant to be a simple integration that covers many types of payments, so your customers can pay how they like.

Countries payments can be sent from: 40

Currencies accepted: 130

Forms of payment: PayPal, Venmo, Apple Pay, Android Pay, Coinbase, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, JCB, and Diner’s Club.

Who can use it: Companies that are based in and have a bank account in the following areas can withdraw money from Braintree: U.S., Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia. By default, withdrawals are made in USD, but there are 12 other currency options.

Fees (per transaction): 2.9% + $0.30

Implementation: Braintree says that an experienced developer can integrate the service within half an hour. They support the following platforms and languages: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Ruby, Python, PHP, Java,, and Node.js. It can work with many e-commerce platforms like Shopify and Magento.


Stripe advertises themselves as a developer-friendly payment platform, and has gained a reputation for efficiency and ease of use, while also having many options for customization.

Countries payments can be sent from: Any

Currencies accepted: Many forms, you can find the list here.

Forms of payment: U.S. based businesses: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB, Discover, Diner’s Club, Bitcoin, Apple Pay, Android Pay, Alipay

Australian, Canadian, European, Japanese based businesses: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Bitcoin, Apple Pay, Android Pay, Alipay.

Who can use it: Companies based in U.S., Australia, Canada, Europe, and Japan

Fees (per transaction): Domestic: 2.9% + $0.30

International: An extra 2% fee on top of the standard.

Bitcoin: 0.5%

Discounts available if you process over $80,000 per month.

Implementation: Stripe is designed for developers and allows a ton of customization for any business. Their documentation breaks it down.


Gumroad is a payment service for small business or professionals only. You can read about their specifications here. While limited in that sense, their payment setup is one of the most flexible.

This is a great service to use if you’re an individual offering a product or service, and one of their main features is how easy it is to set up. Gumroad also has insights and analytics, so you can visualize your sales and income.

Countries payments can be sent from: Any country that you can receive payments through PayPal.

Currencies accepted: Currencies accepted by PayPal.

Forms of payment: Discover, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Maestro, Diner’s Club, PayPal, some debit cards.

Who can use it: Can deposit funds into U.S. Canada, Australia, or UK based bank accounts.

Fees (per transaction): 5% + $0.25

Implementation: There are 3 options: put a direct link on your website (hyperlinked as an image, or however you want); a widget that pops up over your site, or a widget you can embed.

Amazon Payments

Amazon supports global customers, but it’s not very internationally friendly. Your company has to be based in the U.S., and all transactions are made in USD. When there’s a transaction from a customer outside of the U.S., Amazon has an fee of 1% of the transaction, on top of their regular fee.

Countries payments can be sent from: Any

Currencies accepted: USD

Forms of payment: Major credit cards for all customers; bank account and Amazon Payments account transfers are for U.S. based customers.

Who can use it: For American companies only

Fees (per transaction): Fees vary on the type of the transaction and cost more for payments from international customers. More information here.

Implementation: Similar to PayPal, add an Amazon Payments button in your checkout flow.


Ah, Bitcoin. While it hasn’t taken off in a mainstream sense, it has proved invaluable for international transactions. Coinbase is a payment platform that uses Bitcoin for all of its transactions, with customers like Expedia, Wikimedia, and Coinbase does a great job at making Bitcoin user-friendly and simple for merchants and their customers.

If you’re worried about bitcoin volatility, you can immediately cash out after receiving a payment.

Countries payments can be sent from: Any

Currencies accepted: Bitcoin

Forms of payment: Bitcoin

Who can use it: 32 countries

Fees (per transaction): Zero transaction fees for first $1,000,000 in sales, after that just 1% to convert Bitcoin to cash.

Implementation: Coinbase API

What this means for your company

Well, if you’re based in the U.S., you’re in luck! You have many options to choose from (every single one of them). Take a look at where your customers are and how much you can afford to spend per transaction, and pick what fits your needs.

If your company is based outside of the U.S., it gets a little more complicated. PayPal and Amazon Payments aren’t an option. Europe, Canada, and Australia are fairly well-represented, with Braintree, Stripe, Gumroad, and Coinbase available for use.

In addition to the 4 areas mentioned above, companies based in New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia can use Braintree; Japanese companies can use Stripe, and unsurprisingly, the Bitcoin-based Coinbase supports the most countries with 32 (see them here).

If you’re not based in one of those countries, you might have to do a bit of digging to find a specialized platform; or you might want to consider opening a bank account in a country that is more commonly supported. While this can be time-consuming, expensive, or a hassle, if you’re serious about growing internationally, it’s something you should consider.


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