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A Guide to International Business and Payments

Introduction: What is international business?

International business is the commercial activity between two or more countries. It is also referred to as international trade, foreign trade, or cross-border trade.

International business can be classified in three ways: export and import of goods, export and import of services, and direct investment.

Export is the sale of goods from one country to another country. Import is the purchase of goods from a foreign country. Services are intangible commodities that are exported by one country to another country. Direct investment includes equity investments in companies and other entities abroad, as well as purchases of property or factories overseas by domestic firms or individuals.

History of international trade

International trade is the exchange of goods and services between two countries. It is the most common type of trade and is often seen as a way to improve economies.

The history of international trade can be traced back to the ancient world, though it was not always called international trade. The earliest form of international trade occurred when goods were traded over short distances, like between neighboring villages or towns.

The first recorded example of long distance trading was in Mesopotamia in 3000 BC when traders exchanged goods from India for silver from Anatolia.

This early form of international trade was known as bartering - exchanging one good for another without using money as a medium of exchange.

History of currency

The history of currency can be traced back to the ancient world. The earliest forms of currency were often a type of commodity money, such as cattle, cowrie shells, and salt.

The first coins appeared around 600 BC in Lydia (an area in present-day Turkey). These coins were made from electrum, an alloy of gold and silver that was mined in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Cross Border Payments

As global trade became more common, the need arose for more sophisticated payments and trading books.

Venetian merchants traded in the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions, as well as along the coast of North Africa, to the Middle East, India and China.

The Venetians bought spices in Alexandria, grain from Sicily, silk from China. They purchased slaves from Africa to sell in Europe or to use on their ships. They also dealt in Eastern luxuries such as porcelain and spices.

Challenges with International Payments

Cross border payments are usually made for goods or services that are imported from other countries or exported to other countries. These types of transactions usually involve currency conversion which can be costly for the company and the customer. That’s why many companies have started using cross-border payment processors in order to avoid these costs and make their customers happy.

International payments are not easy. Different countries have different payment systems and it is difficult to keep track of all the different currencies. This is why it is important to use a cross-border payment service provider such as PayPal or Stripe that can help you with all your international transactions, regardless of where they are going.

In order to have a comprehensive global coverage with multiple payment types and redundancies, however, you will need to integrated with dozens of payment partners worldwide which is not feasible for most companies.

Fortunately, there are payment orchestration platforms and embedded FX and payments solutions that will make it easier by allowing you to integrate just once and access dozens of payment partners at once.

A good example of such a technology solution is Zed. “Zed offers access to global payment partners with multiple payment options such as bank transfers, mobile wallets or cash in 200+ countries and 150+ currencies with one single integration” according to Founder and CEO Alan Safahi.

These payment orchestration platforms like Zed also make it easier to manage your international payments without having a huge payments team. “We ingest data from all payment partners and offer a clean, timely set of reports on a monthly basis to help you reconcile your books in a day!” claims Safahi.

The Importance of Having the Right Partner

The right partner for international business is one that can provide the necessary knowledge, skills and expertise to help you achieve your goals.

What does it take to be the right partner?

“A good starting point is understanding what the clients really need” says Safahi. “The right partner should be able to help you identify your needs and provide solutions that are specific to your industry, country and culture”.

They should also have a deep understanding of how their own company operates so they can offer services that are tailored to your requirements”.


The world is getting smaller and businesses have to find ways to grow internationally to scaled and survive in the future. However, international payments are difficult and expensive for most companies to tackle on their own. It makes sense to look for embedded FX and payments solution providers that allow you to expand internationally overnight with a single integration.

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