29 May 2008 | Paul Snell
More than half of businesses have experienced problems when paying foreign suppliers over the past 12 months, according to a survey.
The report, published by Travelex Global Business Payments, said the main stumbling block was the time the payments take to clear, with 44 per cent of those surveyed critical of these delays. The problem has a significant impact on cash flow, cited as one of the top three business priorities in a third of firms.
According to the research, businesses trading internationally make and receive an average of 201 foreign payments each month. But one in 10 finance directors said they had "no idea" how long an international payment takes.
Of the 201 UK finance directors questioned, just over a third complained about hidden transaction fees, and a fifth criticised the way intermediary banks often take a cut in processing, meaning the amount sent is not the amount received.
Other problems included the time it takes to physically track overseas payments and the time spent investigating missing payments and negotiating a resolution when they cannot be traced. Travelex said a fifth of firms spend at least four days a month managing these payments.