Germany offers a very attractive financial landscape for businesses, supporting a wide range of payment networks and offering considerable flexibility to business owners. It also supports an array of emerging fintech solutions, making trades within the European Union much easier for organisations.
What payment networks are supported in Germany?
Germany supports several payment networks, including:
SEPA Credit Transfers (SCT)
The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is an initiative by the European Union to simplify electronic payments denominated in euros. SEPA Credit Transfers are commonly used for B2B payments in Germany. They allow businesses to make Euro-denominated payments to any account in the SEPA zone, ensuring uniformity, efficiency, and ease.
Map of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA)
SEPA Direct Debit (SDD)
SEPA Direct Debit allows businesses to collect Euro-denominated payments from accounts across the SEPA zone. With the creditor's agreement, the business can directly debit the owed amount from the debtor's bank account. This method is especially suitable for recurring or subscription-based transactions.
Bank Transfers (Überweisungen)
Traditional bank transfers remain a dominant method of B2B payment in Germany. The German banking system is robust and highly trusted by local businesses. So, bank transfers are often preferred for their reliability, familiarity, and established record.
ELV (Elektronisches Lastschriftverfahren)
While more prevalent in B2C, ELV, an electronic direct debit system, is also used in B2B settings. It allows businesses to debit an account without using a card. However, it lacks a real-time authorisation, making it slightly riskier than other methods.
What payment methods are supported in Germany?
The payment landscape in Germany is characterised by both traditional methods and modern digital innovations - so there are several payment methods to choose from. Let's delve into those options.
1. B2B card payments
Credit and debit card payments are also utilised in B2B transactions, though they may not be as prevalent as bank transfers. MasterCard and Visa are very popular, as well as local card schemes like Girocard.
2. Online payment gateways
With the rise of e-commerce and digital transactions, various online payment gateways, such as PayPal, Stripe, and Sofortüberweisung (a real-time online banking payment service), have become more prominent with businesses looking to send money to Germany.
3. Fintech solutions
The German business payments landscape is also seeing a surge in innovative fintech solutions. Companies like Adyen, Klarna, and Wirecard (prior to its financial scandal) have provided unique payment processing solutions that are tailored to various business needs.
These platforms often integrate various payment methods, making it easier for B2B businesses to manage their transactions.
4. Direct debit (Lastschrift)
Lastschrift, or direct debit, is one of the most popular payment methods in Germany. It involves allowing a merchant or service provider to pull funds directly from a customer's bank account. This is generally the method of choice for recurring payments such as utilities, subscriptions, and insurance premiums.
5. Girocard (formerly EC card)
Girocard is Germany's exclusive debit card system. It's the most widespread card payment method in the country, with most German bank accounts offering a Girocard by default. While it's primarily used for point-of-sale transactions, it has seen increased use online.
6. Cash (Bargeld)
Despite the global trend towards cashless transactions, cash remains king in Germany. Many Germans prefer to pay with cash for daily expenses, valuing the privacy and tangibility it offers. However, it's worth noting that in larger cities, and among younger generations, card and digital payments are gaining ground.
7. E-Wallets and Mobile Payments
E-wallets like PayPal have established a firm footing in the German online shopping sphere. In addition to this, the widespread use of smartphones has introduced more mobile payment solutions, such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet.
8. Online Bank Transfers (Sofortüberweisung)
Sofortüberweisung is a real-time online bank transfer service that allows users to make instant payments using their online banking details. This method is especially popular for e-commerce transactions as it offers a quick and secure way to pay without needing a credit card.
9. Open Invoice (Rechnung)
Paying by invoice or "Rechnung" is especially popular in e-commerce. Customers receive their goods first and pay the invoice within a specified period. This method is built on trust and is quite unique to the German market, with many consumers preferring it for its flexibility and security.
Germany uses the Euro and has done since it was first introduced in Europe.
Sending payments to Germany: step-by-step
A 3S Money International Business Account enables you to send money in 65+ currencies to 190+ countries, including Germany. Here’s how:
1. Open a 3S Money International Business Account
Once approved, get a local German IBAN in your business name – it's just like having a German bank account.
2. Enter the transfer details
Add the recipient’s name and their account details, then choose the currency and country.
3. Send your money
Receive an alert when the transfer is complete (usually in under two hours).
Receiving money from Germany: step-by-step
A 3S Money International Business Account makes it easy to receive payments from 190+ countries, including Germany.
1. Open a 3S Money International Business Account
Benefit from one easy-to-use platform for all your international payments.
2. Give customers your account details
Get a local German IBAN in your business name to collect international payments - it's just like having a local German bank account.
3. Receive your money
See the payment arrive in your account (usually in under two hours).
How long do money transfers to Germany take?
The answer is: it depends. Many transfers from the UK to Germany will take a few seconds, but others could take a few days. Generally speaking, how long depends on the type of transfer and the system(s) used by your provider.
If your bank uses the SEPA network, most payments can be processed instantly.
EMIs, such as 3S Money, can also deliver most transfers to Germany from the UK instantly (a 3S Money International Business Account also allows you to manage your global transfers easily from one online platform).
SWIFT transfers can take up to four working days to reach the recipient.
Wire transfers vary in speed, depending on the provider and product. Some providers offer cash pick-up or mobile wallet options where the money is available within minutes. Bank transfers typically arrive the next day.
Remember, transfers from the UK to Germany are usually only processed on working days. So, if you send a payment over a weekend or public holiday, expect it to take longer to reach its destination.
All these factors will affect how long your transfer takes. If timing is critical, as it is with many small businesses operating across borders, it’s best to check with your chosen provider.
How much does it cost to transfer money to Germany?
Making international transfers via traditional banks can be expensive. Let’s look at the likely costs in more detail.
Outgoing transfer fee: You’ll most likely be charged a flat fee for sending an international transfer. For UK banks, this varies between £20 and £40. 3S Money charges just $1 per transfer (or your local equivalent) regardless of how much you send.
Incoming transfer fee: Most UK banks charge around £7.50 for receiving payments from international bank accounts. 3S Money charges £0.00.
Initiation fee: Some banks might charge you a fee if you request the transfer over the phone or in person rather than online. Expect this to be around £20. 3S Money doesn’t charge initiation fees.
Commission: Banks might also charge a fee based on a percentage of the total amount you transfer. For UK banks, this is currently around 3-4%. 3S Money charges just $1 per transfer (or your local equivalent) regardless of how much you send.
Markups: The exchange rate you can find on Google or see on the news is called the “mid-market” rate. Banks apply their own exchange rates to international transfers which means you’ll pay more – and they keep the difference.
3S Money offers fair and sustainable FX rates that are up to 5x lower than traditional banks.
Overview and tips for transferring money to Germany
When you’re running a business, you’ll want to keep costs to a minimum. That’s even more important when your operations are international.
Fortunately, alternative banking solutions (like 3S Money) are here to save you time and money when completing international transfers to countries like Germany.
We’ve covered a lot in this article, so here are a few tips and main takeaways to consider:
Germany offers a wide range of payment networks and methods for B2B and cross-border payments.
Where possible, avoid making lots of small transfers. Individual fees and charges add up.
With 3S Money, you don’t need to worry about high fees or delays because you’ll have access to a local German IBAN.
Check the latest GBP/EUR exchange rate and compare it to the one offered by your provider. You may have to do some digging to find this number.
Ensure that the provider you use is regulated by an independent body. 3S Money is FCA and CSSF regulated and uses safeguarding to protect 100% of your funds. Other schemes such as the FSCS only cover up to £80,000 – so you have greater peace of mind with 3S Money.
Why choose 3S Money for your business payments?
3S Money is a cross-border payments platform that offers multi-currency business accounts designed to allow for borderless payments. Our clients can collect payments in 65+ local currencies in over 190 global marketplaces, all without the hassle of hidden conversion fees.
The easier way for international businesses to manage their money
Ready to start making and receiving payments to and from Germany with ease?
3S Money’s International Business Account offers global payment solutions for businesses looking to operate in multiple countries – all from one easy-to-use account.
Generally, there's no strict cap on the amount you can send to Germany. However, individual banks or payment platforms may impose their own transaction limits for security and regulatory reasons. Check with your provider for this information.
To ensure your payment process runs smoothly, you'll need:
plus any other information your provider requires.
- the recipient's full name or business name
- their full address
- their IBAN number/SWIFT code
Yes, Germany, being a part of the European Union, adheres to the EU's anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) regulations. When making significant transfers, be prepared for additional checks or documentation requests. Always ensure your transactions comply with both your local regulations.