16 August 2023

Sending and receiving payments from France

Bienvenu, bonne journée, bonjour! France offers great opportunities for online merchants. If you’re ready to expand your business into Europe, our guide will make you a local payments expert.
Sending payments to and from France: a guide for international businesses

When you think of France, it’s hard not to think of its famous fashion houses, historic palaces, high-end holiday destinations and sophisticated food scene. But its strength lies in commerce as well as culture; France is home to 25 of the world’s 500 most valuable companies. It’s also the EU’s largest agricultural producer and one of the most powerful political presences on the world stage. 

In short, it’s an economic and political powerhouse. Whether it’s tourism, luxury exports or fashion trends, France leads the way. And does so with characteristic style.

If your business is looking to operate in France, you might be considering how best to manage payments to and from this diverse and well-developed market? In this guide, we’ll look at the different options available when it comes to transferring money for your business needs as well as how much they cost and how long they’ll take. 

Let’s begin with a brief look at the French economy as well as consumer payment behaviours.

France’s economy: a quick overview

The French economy is one of the most diverse in Europe with agriculture, tourism and fashion/luxury goods being among its key sectors. In terms of nominal GDP, it ranks 7th in the world.

France has a history of producing companies that become global leaders in their industries. Air France is one of the busiest and most recognisable global airlines, JCDecaux is the world’s largest outdoor advertising corporation, AXA insurance, EDF energy, L’Oreal... The list goes on.

Well established as these traditional corporations are, France is no slouch when it comes to innovation. According to the World Bank, France invests 2.35% of its GDP in research and development and its developing ecommerce market is projected to be worth $222bn by 2026. So, for companies choosing this market, the future is bright.

Currencies

France uses the Euro which is identified by the € symbol and the ISO currency code EUR. It was among the first group of countries to adopt the European Union’s single currency with bank notes and coins coming into circulation in January 2002.

Consumer payment behaviours in France

French consumers have a strong preference to spend their Euros by card. Local card scheme Cartes Bancaires is the market leader with over 70 million cards issued.

Online shopping took longer to establish itself in France than in other European nations. The same is true for mobile shopping (which is quickly catching up). But now, French ecommerce is big business, with 49 million online shoppers and 2.6 billion individual transactions in 2021.

As for online payments, cards are also the most popular way to pay (52%), but mobile wallets are gaining traction accounting for 25% of transactions. Buy now, pay later schemes, including leading provider, Klarna, are also becoming increasingly popular.

Amazon is the largest French online merchant and a popular way for many international merchants to enter the market. 3S Money offers full integration with Amazon to receive payments into your International Business Account. It’s an easy and fast way for global ecommerce retailers to manage their international transactions.

Global transfers in France

Being part of the Eurozone means that France is closely integrated within European financial networks and well-connected for efficient business and personal banking. Let’s look at some of the infrastructure France has in place for dealing with global transfers:

  • France belongs to the EU’s Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). This means that transfers to other SEPA countries work just the same as transfers to domestic accounts within France, easing friction for bank transfers across Europe.
  • The SEPA Instant Credit scheme (SCT Inst) enables pan-European transfers in seconds – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. France was one of the first countries to adopt it and the value of payments made is set to jump ten-fold by 2026. The limit on SCT Inst transactions is now €100,000 which supports businesses looking to be agile when making high-value payments. The scheme’s immediacy also helps businesses manage their cashflows more efficiently.
  • The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) network is readily accessible by many institutions in France, enabling straightforward international transfers between 190+ countries.

Transferring money to and from France is relatively straightforward – institutions can use the means above to make financial transactions efficiently. However, if your business needs to make and receive regular payments, it can be expensive in the long term. How can you avoid these costs?

Some businesses find that setting up financial infrastructure locally is the best solution. However, that can be a challenge, involving considerable short-term costs plus additional time to get your business operational.

Fortunately, there are alternative tools that give you access to global markets – including France – more easily. Next, we’ll look at the different options available to transfer money to and from France so you can decide which is most suitable for you.

What are the different ways to send money to and from France?

If your business needs to transfer money to and from France, to receive customer payments or pay supplier invoices for example, there are several solutions available to you. They include:

  • International money transfer specialists
  • Bank-to-bank international transfers
  • Online multi-currency accounts
  • Cash pick-up
  • Digital or mobile wallets

Which one works best for you will depend on your business needs and operations, so we’ll consider the pros and cons for each.

International money transfer specialists

When it comes to companies that specialise in international money transfers, you’re spoilt for choice. Moneycorp and Western Union are well-known examples.

With this method of transfer, you’ll be able to choose how the money is received: bank transfer, mobile wallet, or cash pick-up from a physical location for example. This flexibility and range of options can make it a useful tool.

However, fees for this type of transfer can be significant – For example, when sending euros from France to the UK, you could be looking at an additional 0.56% of the amount on top, plus flat fees. And if you want your payment to get to its recipient faster, you’ll pay a premium for it. Plus, these services often add a markup on the currency exchange rate. That means either the sender will have to pay significantly more, or the recipient receives less. Either way, the provider pockets a healthy profit.

With so many international transfer providers out there, it’s important to make sure that the service you choose is regulated by a body such as the FCA, FSCS, or similar. (3S Money is CSSF licensed and FCA-regulated)

Bank-to-bank international transfers

Another option is to use your bank to transfer the funds. This is a popular choice for many businesses and individuals as it’s often the easiest and most convenient. But it can also be expensive:

Banks usually charge a fee to arrange and process money transfers.
Some banks may also charge a percentage of the total amount you’re transferring (as much as 3-4%). So if you were transferring €100,000 from France to pay your suppliers in US, you could lose up to €4,000 in bank fees. 

Banks may use their own foreign exchange (FX) rates which could cost you 5-7% more.
International transfers often involve chains of different banks (called “correspondent banks”) all of which will charge a fee, pushing up the total cost.

All banks are different, so check the terms of your business account to see exactly what your bank’s international transfer charges are. If they charge a lot, consider an alternative, especially if you plan to make regular international transfers to and from France.

Online multi-currency accounts

An alternative to traditional bank transfer is an online multi-currency account. These are digital platforms where you can send and receive payments in multiple currencies, usually with far more competitive FX rates and lower fees. 

Multi-currency accounts, like the 3S Money International Business Account, are popular with businesses that operate in multiple markets across the world as they offer a streamlined global payments system: easy cross-border payments, a single view of all transactions, and FX rates up to five times cheaper than traditional banks. 

Online multi-currency accounts tend to be offered by Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs).  EMIs provide many of the same financial products and services as traditional banks, but they operate differently. For one thing, they don’t have branches you can walk into. 3S Money, for instance, is an EMI.

Here are a few reasons why EMIs are so attractive to growing international businesses:

  • Savings: EMIs offer lower fees and more competitive FX rates than traditional brick-and-mortar banks.
  • Simplicity: All your business transactions are visible in one easy-to-use platform which is accessible anywhere in the world. With 3S Money’s International Business Account for example, you have total control over all your international accounts, from one dashboard.
  • Scale: Your business can grow quicker with greater access to multiple markets and currencies.

The alternative banking solutions offered by EMIs enable businesses to make payments in different countries without the need to hold local bank accounts. Find out more about EMIs here.

Cash pick-up

Some transfer providers offer the option to pick up physical cash at one of their locations near your recipient.

This service is often an option provided by international transfer specialists, so the same pros and cons apply. It’s straightforward and the cash can often be available in minutes, depending on the opening hours of the physical location. 

However, there’s usually a price to pay for convenience and the same risk of losing out to significant markups on currency conversion. This solution is a reasonable one for occasional transfers but isn’t the most sustainable for regular payments.

Digital or mobile wallets

Another option for sending and receiving cross-border payments from France is a digital or mobile wallet. 

PayPal was one of the first digital wallets and is still the world’s most widely used. While a popular tool for personal (peer-to-peer) transfers, business transactions can be expensive. There are no set-up fees, but the standard charge is 5.4% + $0.30 per transaction. There are also hefty currency conversion charges.

There are many other digital and mobile wallets out there. One of the most popular in France is PayLib which links up with the predominant card provider Cartes Bancaires. Which works best for your business will depend on factors including your location and specific needs.

What’s the best way to send money to and from France?

If you’re a business sending and receiving regular international payments to and from France, one-off transfer services (such as those offered by traditional banks and international transfer specialists) will turn out to be an expensive option for you.

Most international businesses will be completing multiple transactions on a daily basis, whether that’s paying suppliers, employees, freelancers, or taxes in different countries, or collecting payments from consumers. 

If you use transfer specialists or traditional banks for these regular transactions, their high fees, commission-based charges, and FX markups will add up and eat away at your bottom line.

For businesses that want hassle-free access to global markets, a better solution is an online multi-currency account where you can send and receive payments in 65+ currencies and 190+ countries, including France.

How do I send money to France? Step-by-step.

With a 3S Money International Business Account, you can send money in 65+ currencies to 190+ countries, including France. Here’s how:

1. Open a 3S Money International Business Account

Once approved, your business can send hassle-free payments to France using your online 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

Make the transfer from your online account and receive an alert when it’s complete.

How do I receive money from France Step-by-step.

A 3S Money International Business Account makes it easy to receive international payments in 65+ currencies from 190+ countries, including France. Here’s how: 

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 

Collect EUR payments with ease and view all transactions in your streamlined account.

3. Receive your money 

See the payment arrive in your online account and either hold or exchange it for another currency. 

How long do transfers to and from France take?

It depends on where the transfer is being sent from, where it’s going, the systems used, and when you send it.  

  • Most traditional bank transfers take up to five working days. 
  • SWIFT transfers take one to five working days. 
  • Transfers between 3S Money accounts are instant. 
  • If you send your transfer on a weekend or public holiday, it could take longer. 
  • Some receiving banks take longer to process incoming payments than others, so delays can occur for this reason. 

How much money can I send or receive from France?

In principle, there’s no limit to how much you can transfer. However, some providers will cap the amount you can send in a single transaction. So, if you want to transfer a large amount, you may have to do multiple transfers. 

With 3S Money, there are no transaction limits. Once you’ve been approved for an International Business Account, you can transfer high-value payments with ease to 190+ countries around the world, including France. We even offer expert support for clients who are transferring large amounts for extra peace of mind. 

Transferring large amounts 

If your provider does impose a cap, watch out for multiple transfer fees. If you send payments regularly this way, to pay supplier invoices or employee wages, for example, the costs could mount up. 

 When transferring large amounts, consider the following: 

  • Some providers cap the amount you can send in a single transfer, so you may have to do several. 
  • There may be a limit on the number of transfers you can make in any 30-day period. 
  • Larger amounts can take longer to process. 
  • Your provider may enquire about large transfers. This is considered best practice and is also an important part of how institutions that are regulated by the FCA (like 3S Money) meet their obligations. Learn more about who 3S Money is regulated by. 

How much does it cost to transfer money to France?

We mentioned earlier how international transfers via traditional banks can be a costly way to send money. Let’s look in more detail at the fees you might pay (once again, this will depend on your bank):
 

Transfer costs

  • Outgoing transfer fee: You’ll most likely be charged a flat fee for sending an international transfer. A bank in France, for example, will typically charge between €30-90.
    3S Money charges just $1 (or your local equivalent) per transfer, regardless of how much you send. More about 3S Money pricing.
  • Incoming transfer fee: Most French 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. For a French bank, you can 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 French banks, this is currently around 3-4%.
    3S Money charges just $1 per transfer (or your local equivalent) regardless of how much you send.
  • Exchange rate markup: The exchange rate you can find on Google or see on the news is called the “mid-market” rate. Transfer providers apply their own exchange rates to international transfers which means you’ll pay more – and they keep the difference.
    3S Money offers FX rates that are up to 5x lower than traditional banks.

Key takeaways

We’ve covered a lot in this article, so here are some tips and main takeaways to consider:

  • France is both a cultural and commercial centre, home to many of the world’s leading luxury brands.
  • The value of its ecommerce market is set to increase by over 50% by 2026 signalling a huge opportunity for online merchants.
  • An online multi-currency account can be an effective solution for businesses looking to scale and access new markets with ease.
  • With 3S Money, you can get a multi-currency business account in your company name which brings you the benefits of local bank accounts across the world without the hassle or admin of setting them up.
  • With a 3S Money International Business Account, you can send, receive, hold and exchange EUR with low transaction costs and even lower FX rates.
  • Watch out for currency exchange markups as they can eat into the money you’re sending.
  • When choosing a provider for global payments, make sure they're regulated by an independent body. 3S Money is FCA-regulated, CSSF licensed 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.

Manage your money to help your business grow

Ready to start making and receiving payments easily from France and access this integrated and well-connected European market?

3S Money’s International Business Account offers global payment solutions for businesses looking to operate in multiple countries, including a French IBAN – all from one easy-to-use account. 

Meet the authors

Matthew Ivo

Author

Matthew Ivo is the Senior Content Manager with a strong background in crafting engaging finance-related articles. With extensive experience in the field, Matt’s writing brings clarity and valuable insights to complex financial topics, captivating readers with his expertise.

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