The Problem with Cross-Border Wires and Why BitPay’s B2B Business is Up 250%

In 2018, the price of Bitcoin declined by around 80%. Despite that drastic downturn, BitPay’s volume of business to business or B2B payments grew 250%. Why? B2B payments, fueled by both small businesses and global enterprises, are increasing in volume while decreasing in size. In 2016, Cross-Border B2B made up 135 trillion USD in global payment flows and 200 billion USD in payment-related revenue.1 If everything is growing, then what’s the problem? We’re glad you asked.

The Problem with Cross-Border Payments

Analyzing the findings of SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), the four biggest problems with cross-border payments are: visibility, certainty, cost, and consistency.2 More specifically, 40 to 50% of respondents had problems with:

  • Tracking payments
  • Inconsistent processes and
  • Unpredictable total costs
  • Inconsistency between the amount sent and the amount received
  • A lack of information about the payments sent and received
  • Knowing when payments would be credited

Why do these problems still persist in 2019? Because global payments are made across the correspondent banking network: a loose group of over 10,000 sender, intermediary, and receiving banks that follows the SWIFT messaging protocol. As Erin McCune points out in her piece There is No Such Thing as an International Wire and as the following diagram shows, this process is difficult to navigate because of the huge number of parties involved in getting a payment from point A to B.

Traditional Correspondent Banking Network

This vast web of connected banks creates complications which cost companies both time and money. Each point within in this network is a business and charges a fee for their service. And with so many points of failure, communication errors are inevitable.

If your company is large enough, you can employ specialists to manage this complicated relationship between your global customers, your global suppliers, and all of the banks involved in sending a cross-border payment from point A to B. If your business isn’t large enough to eat these expenses, you have to resign yourself to not having access to global payments without high costs.

What About Fintechs?

Non- payment providers like Earthport, WorldPay, and Western Union Business Solutions have attempted to bypass the correspondent banking network. They have established local bank accounts capable of accessing local banking networks, and facilitating cross-border payments in popular county corridors.
However, given the regulatory scrutiny, cost and operational overhead of opening and maintaining these accounts, the reach of these companies will always be limited. Even with hundreds of bank accounts, no one non-bank payment provider will be truly global.
FinTechs (Financial Technology Companies) like PayPal, TransferWise, and Veem layer better customer experience, increased price transparency, and modern technology on top of a mix of their own local accounts and the traditional correspondent banking network. But despite these improvements, FinTechs have to ultimately rely on a network of correspondent banking for global payments.

FinTech Layer on top of Correspondent Banking Network

Non- payment providers and FinTechs are able to improve some of the issues that the correspondent banking network creates but are unable to solve its core problems.

Are Blockchain Payments the Solution?

Blockchain payments solve all of the pain points that SWIFT itself recognizes with global B2B payments. The technology provides:

  • Transparent tracking of payments sent and received
  • A consistent process that cannot be arbitrarily changed
  • Upfront and transparent costs of sending payments
  • Exact amounts sent and received
  • Payment confirmation in less than an hour

In short, it is already challenging the old way of moving money across borders. However, there are two problems for businesses wanting to use blockchain payments.

First, the price of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is volatile. As a result, it is easy for company A to send company B exactly one bitcoin, but the value of that one bitcoin is likely to change. Second, because of its price volatility and how it is regulated and taxed, your financial team may have concerns using it.

BitPay Blockchain Payments as the Solution

This is where BitPay comes in. We remove price volatility and the need to handle cryptocurrency from the equation. This means the businesses that accept blockchain payments through BitPay never need to touch or manage any cryptocurrency unless they want to. We also allow businesses to receive settlement in a variety of traditional currencies and several stablecoins at a guaranteed rate delivered to their account within two business days.
This is all for a simple 1% fee. No foreign spreads, no subscription fees, no other payment fees of any kind. Just the 1% fee.

Blockchain Payments with BitPay

BitPay B2B payments are also ideal for businesses that:

  1. Need to receive international payments of any size, from less than $100 to over $1,000,000 USD
  2. Want to expand into hard-to-reach regions
  3. Want to sell products and services to the global crypto-economy (exchanges, wallet providers, hosting services, mining equipment manufacturers, gaming businesses, etc.)
  4. Want to pay their traditional supplier base with bitcoin earned as revenue.
  5. Want to expatriate funds from their subsidiary’s sales in low liquidity countries to their regional corporate headquarters. Last year, a Fortune 500 company used BitPay for this exact reason.
  6. Are in the Global South and want an alternative to the high costs of sending payments to Western suppliers

International payments are complicated, messy, and costly for businesses. Blockchain payments solve that and BitPay eliminates the risk of price volatility and any regulatory uncertainty
In short, BitPay solves international payment problems for a 1% fee. If you’re a business that wants a global reach, what are you waiting for? Contact our sales team to learn more.

For another example of BitPay helping B2B businesses, read our Bellatorra case-study.


  1. Global Payments 2016: Strong Fundamentals Despite Uncertain Times, McKinsey & Company
  2. The future of payments: a corporate treasury perspective, EuroFinance Corporate Treasury Network and SWIFT
Post written by our friend Rolf Haag and from
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