India was the second-largest growing freelance market in the world in 2020. Massive job losses during the onset of the pandemic forced many people to look for more convenient work options compared to the time-bound ones. The quick change in technology and workplace expectations contributed to the change in traditional employment models.
Between Q1 and Q2 of 2020, freelancers in India grew 46%. Freelancers revenue grew by 28% in just two months of May and June 2020. India’s freelance economy consists of at least 15M freelancers now, and the industry is expected to grow to $20B – $30B by 2025.
The number of Indian freelancers servicing international clients has also increased consistently. India is still one of the best places to find great talent at a relatively affordable price for foreign clients.
While this appears to be a bright spot, there are a few issues with international freelancing. If you are a freelancer receiving foreign payments, then you know the challenges . You have found the right client and project, done the hard work of securing the contract, and spent days reaching the first delivery milestone. You have to now invoice the client. The client wants to know your bank account number to send the payment.
Before we dive deeper into the best way to answer that, here are some points to keep in mind for receiving international payments.
Basics of receiving foreign payments
- Exchange Fees: Most international clients either prefer paying in their local currency, or in US Dollars. While getting money back to India, you will need to pay a currency exchange spread and often a fixed fee. This could end up anywhere between 1%-4% of the amount.
- Credit card payments: If you let your client pay using a credit card or through payment processors like Paypal, be prepared to lose an extra 3-4% of the amount in fees.
- Wire transfer fee: If your client is transferring funds through a wire transfer directly to your Indian bank account, the client may need to pay an international wire fee of up to $50, and your bank may also charge a fixed fee to receive the wire. In many cases, there may also be intermediary bank charges of $20-30
- Multiple currencies: If you freelance for clients in several countries, you may need to enroll for multiple services or accounts to collect payments. We will also look at a more efficient way to do this.
- Platform fees: If you are using a freelancing platform to work with the client, the platform may charge as much as 20% of the earnings for the service.
So now that we know the basics of collections, let’s look at the platforms you can use to receive payments.
Foreign payment collection platforms for Indian freelancers
Winvesta Multi-Currency Account
Winvesta Multi-Currency Account (MCA) provides you with your own foreign currency accounts to collect payments in the client’s local currency. You get your own banking details in 30+ currencies including USD, GBP, and EUR. To open an account, you just need a PAN card and address proof. Signing up takes only 2 minutes.
Once you receive the payment, you can convert it to INR within the account at a transparent conversion rate. You may then withdraw it to your Indian bank account within a business day, or hold it in your account. Winvesta MCA makes it really convenient for both the client and the freelancer to settle the invoice.
PayPal is one of the leading payments platforms across the globe. Clients can transfer money to your Paypal account using just your email. One of the primary concerns of using PayPal is the high fees. It can charge around 3% or more for payment collections, and another 2-3% for FX conversions. It usually also takes longer to for the transaction to settle and to transfer money to your Indian bank.
Payoneer is an international payment collection service designed for businesses and large freelancers. Similar to an MCA, you can receive payments from around the world using Payoneer. It lets you open ‘virtual’ accounts in multiple currencies. These accounts are not same as having your own unique accounts. Clients who are not on Payoneer may also need to pay up to 1%-3% to make payments to you. Conversion to INR and withdrawal to India could cost up to 2% on top of that. Verification process for Payoneer may take a while and may require you to provide additional details.
Receiving payments directly in your Indian bank account is the last resort and the one that your client may like the least. As mentioned earlier, this means a wire transfer costing up to $50 for the client, and 1% + $20 to 4% + $50 to you. It can also take longer for funds to reflect, and many times they may be held by the bank for additional checks.
Winvesta MCA and Payoneer are the best choices for a freelancer receiving foreign payments without losing out a substantial part of his/her earnings. Winvesta could be more convenient for the clients who are not on Payoneer, as it does not require the client to sign up or pay a fee for the transfer. You also keep more control over your finances and can continue to hold foreign currency overseas for a more favorable exchange rate.