Top 10 Cross-Border Payment Services in North America

Tags: eCommerceFinancial servicesFintechFraud preventionPaymentsWorld - CanadaWorld - US
cross-border payment

Today’s world is becoming increasingly connected thanks to the Internet. As a result, cross-border trade continues to grow exponentially, so much so that cross-border transactions made up for nearly a quarter of PayPal’s total payment volume from 2012 to 2014.

For anyone seeking to do business internationally, whether buying or selling, there are a multitude of options available for sending and receiving payments. In this first installment of our series, we examine some of the top cross-border payment services in North America.

Amazon Payments

Amazon Payments is the payments division of Seattle-based eCommerce juggernaut Amazon. This cross-border payment provider leverages the power of Amazon by allowing both merchants and consumers to use existing Amazon accounts to make payments on non-Amazon online retail websites. Due to the fact that so many consumers already have Amazon accounts, the friction caused by having to create yet another new account is eliminated, potentially increasing conversion rates for merchants.


Founded in 1998, PayPal is a well-established pioneer in the online payments space. In 2014, the San Jose, California company processed 4 billion payments, 1 billion of those being made on mobile devices. Once owned by online auction giant eBay, PayPal was spun off in July 2015. With 173 million active customer accounts in 203 different markets using over 100 currencies, PayPal clearly commands a large share of the cross-border payments market. Many major retailers support online payments using PayPal, such as Nike, Home Depot, Target, and Apple.


Stripe is focused on helping businesses accept online payments. As such, they have provided a rich set of tools for developers, including robust application programming interfaces (APIs) that support a number of popular programming languages. Based in San Francisco, Stripe currently enables businesses in 23 countries to accept payments online from anywhere in the world in over 130 different currencies including Bitcoin. Merchants can receive their payments in their own local currency, where available.


Co-founded by Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsey, Square is best known for its Square Reader that turns any iOS or Android device into a mobile point-of-sale (POS) system. The card reader plugs into the headset jack of the smartphone or tablet, and the Square Register POS app allows business owners to use their mobile device like a portable cash register to record purchases and issue receipts by email or using a connected printer. For the U.S. market, Square is introducing a new reader that supports the EMV chip that is being rolled out for all American credit cards.


As a relative newcomer to online payments, having been established in late 2010, Vancouver-based Payfirma is making its mark and rapidly gaining momentum in a highly competitive market. They launched Canada’s first mobile payment app for the iPhone in 2011 and began accepting U.S. payments in addition to Canada in 2013. Like Square, they provide point-of-sale solutions to accept credit card payments using smartphones and tablets. Payfirma also offers the ability to accept debit and credit card payments using traditional terminals.


Payment solutions provider WePay began in 2008 out of an idea to create an app to make it easy for friends to pool money for shared expenses, like ski trips and club activities. After a challenging start in the area of group payments, WePay moved away from building a payments platform and instead specialized in providing payment services for platforms. Since then, the company headquartered in Redwood City, California has found tremendous success and powers payments for platforms like Meetup, FreshBooks, GoFundMe, and Constant Contact.


Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Elavon provides payment services for small business and enterprise as well as market and industry payment solutions and loyalty programs. They have been consistently rated among the top five global payment providers, processing more than 3 billion transactions globally worth over $300 billion each year. Elavon’s areas of expertise include the airline, hospitality, healthcare, and retail industries as well as public sector and education.


First founded in Chicago in 2007, Braintree has a very illustrious history. After the successful launch of its payment platform in 2010, it acquired U.S. payment firm Venmo in 2012 before being bought by PayPal in 2013. Braintree provides a simple yet powerful software development kit (SDK) that is easy for developers to integrate into websites and applications. Using its new SDK, available for iOS, Android, and JavaScript, online merchants can accept payments from PayPal, Apple Pay, Android Pay, Bitcoin, and credit and debit cards.


This San Francisco-based company began in 2000 with a focus on developing simple, accessible, and flexible mass payment solutions. Since 2006, Hyperwallet has been offering global local bank deposits and international wire transfers through a growing network of financial partners worldwide. Additional payout options, such as prepaid cards, existing debit and credit cards, cash pickup, and checks are now also available. Hyperwallet’s payment network currently reaches over 170 countries with more than 150 currencies.

Apple Pay

Even before its official U.S.-only launch in late 2014, Apple Pay had garnered much attention from both technology and payment aficionados due to intensive media coverage leading up to its debut. Apple has since made Apple Pay available in Canada, the UK, and Australia in 2015 with more countries expected to be added over time. For consumers, the concept behind using Apple Pay is very straightforward. Using an Apple Watch or compatible iPhone or iPad, shoppers can easily pay for purchases holding up their device to a contactless reader. In addition, online shoppers can also use Apple Pay on their iOS device to make payments within mobile commerce apps. Although Apple Pay is widely supported by most major banks and credit cards in the U.S., only American Express cards can be used in Canada with a growing number of merchants accepting it.

As traditional card-present transactions become more secure, now that the U.S. has adopted EMV technology, it is widely anticipated that fraudsters will increase their attacks using card-not-present (CNP) online payments. While industry experts expect to see a surge in CNP fraud in the coming months, online payment service providers have already built up their defenses in preparation. In addition to being compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), many of the companies listed here go even further. Some offer multi-factor authentication, and some will even absorb any losses due to fraud.

“Cross-border e-commerce will balloon to $1 trillion in 2020 from $230 billion in 2014,” said Jon Jones, President of Trulioo. “There will be 900 million online shoppers worldwide in 2020 and the ability to instantly verify identities online will give payment providers a competitive advantage that will help mitigate risk and fraud.”

What trends do you foresee for cross-border payments in North America?

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