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Ask HN: How to pay developers in Europe?
35 points by DarkShikari on Apr 11, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 18 comments
I just paid out the first quarter's profit shares for my startup, x264 LLC (commercial licensing arm of the x264 open source project). However, the majority of the major developers for the project are in Europe, so the best way to pay them seems a bit less obvious.

This time I did:

1. US developers: Mail a check.

2. UK developers: Mail a check (their banks are apparently fine with this).

3. Sweden/Germany/Austria/France: Wire transfer in native currency.

4. Russia: Wire transfer in US dollars to a special account set up by the developer.

The problem with this is that the wire transfer prices charged by the bank (Bank of America) are exorbitant: not only is it $35 per transfer, but they slash off another 5% in the form of exchange rate gouging. This latter will probably become a significant cost (~1-2% of total income) as income rises.

Is there any better option for international payments in the ~$500-$25000 range?

Western union is definitely less than what you're quoting there from BoA.

A general tip in this area is to find out what immigrants use to send money home. You can be pretty confident that they're getting a good deal.

Seems so!

Bank of America: 1 EUR = 1.5017 USD

Western Union: 1 EUR = 1.4590 USD

Google Finance: 1 EUR = 1.4429 USD

I'll try them for the next quarter.

One way or another, you're probably going to want to set up an account of your own in Europe and figure out the cheapest way to transfer large lumps of cash into it.

At least in Germany, there's absolutely no charge to wire money to another account in Europe, including the UK.

Remember, if you set up an account outside of the US, and its value equals or exceeds $10,000 for even a moment during any year, you have to report it. Not saying you shouldn't do it. But a word to the wise . . .

Use Citibank Global Transfers. I think this option requires opening a Citibank account by both parties, but once done you can transfer to most countries in the World, Mexico and India for Free and other places for $10 (less than a third of BoA)… https://online.citibank.com/US/JRS/pands/detail.do?ID=InterC...

B of A is gouging you. Are you big enough to shop for another bank? You may want to sit down with a VP of some competing banks, and take proposals, along with checking out some of these other options here.

One issue you face is Patriot Act, anti-terrorism laws. These laws have made it difficult for small / local banks to send international wires out to random people all the time; they need to have a "Know your wiree" type policy in place for everyone they're wiring. In your use case, since you sound like you'll have common developers, this would be an upfront, but not permanent problem. At any rate, I'd start by calling some Branch managers of large regional - national banks, and see who wants your business.

The 35$ per transfer is normal, the 5% is not. It'll probably be cheaper to send the money directly in USD without currency exchange, the european bank will then deal with it and their rates are usually cheaper (at least for french banks).

You can also maybe suggest to the people you work with to setup a USD account with their bank. That's what I did with my bank in France, it was quite easy and allows me to exchange all the payments from USD to Euros in one go.

Another services I've heard some good things of but haven't tested is Xe.com Transfers [1] and Xoom [2]

[1] http://www.xe.com/fx/ [2] https://www.xoom.com/

What about Paypal? It should allow you to move around money quite easily and people can withdraw it to their accounts also relatively problem free. Although I am not sure about the state of Paypal in all the countries you mention.

I'm a UK developer and this is one of the reasons I very rarely accept work from people not in the UK. I usually accept paypal for overseas payments because even though the fees are ridiculous and I hate paypal, it actually takes about the same time and fees to accept international payments this way compared to a bank transfer. This however has the added benefit of being better for my client that is making the payment as it costs them nothing extra.

I run a small startup in the UK (www.mycurrencytransfer.com) that helps people compare currency transfers from different providers.

We've found specialist currency brokers such as Moneycorp, The FX Firm, IFX, and World First, amongst others, offer more competitive rates than the banks.

They are what businesses tend to use when paying overseas suppliers, and people purchasing properties overseas.

(Sorry for the "shameful plug", I just thought I'd chime in seeing as it seemed appropriate)

Check out http://www.xe.com/

I'm living in Australia at the moment and lots of people recommended them for sending money abroad.

Not sure what the ramifications are for commercial purposes, but for changing large amounts of currency for personal use they give a damned good rate. I'm a BofA customer in the States and as you found, their rates are a joke.

A US check being cashed in the UK or most places, can take a few weeks. We had an office in West London, and the best way we found to pay our European team was by bank wire. You may want to look into Ruesch International (now known as Travelex Business). Might also be able to use them for other Sweden/Germany/France and Russia as well.

Also checks (or cheques) are being completely phased out in the UK. Hardly anyone uses them. Direct bank transfer is cheaper, safer and clears much faster.

Take a look at an exchange service such as xe.com. Basically the way it works is that you would do an ACH transfer to them and then they would do the conversion and then transfer out to the requested bank account. These services are supposed to give you the best conversion rates.

You can try Everbank www.everbank.com , which has World Currency accounts. It is a US-based bank, but you can have a Euro account, from which you can do wire transfers to Europe. Their conversion rates are good.

For smaller amounts, how about setting up an account in the US and getting a debit card for the payee? Pay into the local account. They use the debit card.

I believe checks are safe and better for sender/receiver/govt

...for sending money to countries that still use them, yes.

Where I am, noone's been using checks for that past 20-30 years. In the rare case you get one and wants to cash it in, there are exorbitant fees for doing so, since it's so unusual.

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