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Navigating global payment regulations: a guide for international businesses

The rapid growth of eCommerce and fintech services has turned the globe into one enormous marketplace. But with great potential comes great complexity. The international business landscape is fraught with myriad global payment regulations, a testament to the intricacy of cross-border transactions. 

Adhering to these regulations is crucial to avoid penalties, reputational damage, and operational disruptions. When viewed from the perspective of varying regulations across countries, international payment processing can become daunting. 

This guide seeks to simplify the international financial transactions landscape, outlining the key regulatory parameters and providing practical insights for compliance.

Understanding global payment regulations

Central banks, financial authorities, and international organisations play a vital role in shaping the global regulatory landscape, setting global compliance requirements to protect the financial system’s integrity.

The objectives of these regulations are multifaceted, aimed at preventing fraud, combating money laundering, safeguarding consumers, and preserving financial stability.

Businesses should be aware of terminologies such as Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Know Your Customer (KYC), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which serve as benchmarks for international compliance.

Key payment regulations by region

Europe: The European Union’s regulatory framework hinges on the Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) and the GDPR. Additions like Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) and Open Banking further add nuances to payment processing in the region.

North America: In the United States, the regulatory landscape encompasses the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA), and the PCI DSS. Regulatory bodies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) oversee these regulations.

Asia-Pacific: Payment regulations vary in key Asian countries, with China’s Payment and Settlement Systems Act, Japan’s Payment Services Act, and India’s Payment and Settlement Systems Act leading the way. Regional initiatives like the ASEAN Payment Connectivity and the APEC CBPR framework also shape the regulatory landscape.

Latin America: Latin American countries, such as Mexico and Brazil, increasingly emphasise eCommerce and digital payment methods. For example, Mexico’s AML Law and Brazil’s Payment Systems Act define the regulatory standards. 

Middle East and Africa: The Middle East, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, rely on Central Bank Payment Systems Regulations and Saudi Arabia’s Payment Systems Regulation, while African countries like South Africa and Nigeria are governed by their respective Payment System Management Acts.

Compliance best practices for international businesses

To ensure adherence to global payment regulations, international businesses must establish a robust compliance framework, with a particular focus on the following points:

Maintain a thorough understanding of the regulatory landscape, especially in new business regions. Regulations will also evolve continuously, so businesses must keep informed about regulatory updates that may impact their operations.

Ensuring regular compliance training for employees helps foster a culture of compliance within the organisation.

Implementing robust internal controls. These controls involve procedures that safeguard business assets and ensure the accuracy and reliability of financial records. 

Manage data with software solutions while also detecting fraud and meeting reporting requirements. 

Ensure regular internal and external audits to identify potential weaknesses and breaches in compliance, enabling you to rectify these promptly.

Lastly, when expanding to new markets, businesses should seek local expertise or legal advice to comprehend and adhere to the specific payment regulations of those countries. It’s a challenging task, but the risk of non-compliance makes it a necessary effort for every business operating internationally.

Partnering with payment service providers (PSPs)

In the dynamic landscape of global payment regulations, Payment Service Providers (PSPs) emerge as crucial allies for businesses operating internationally. 

Acting as the linchpin in the payment ecosystem, PSPs navigate the complex network of regulatory frameworks across jurisdictions, helping businesses comply with the requisite laws and regulations. 

A key benefit of partnering with a PSP is their expertise in handling international financial transactions. They facilitate the seamless processing of international payments and manage the intricate web of multi-currency transactions, currency conversion rates, international fees, and acquiring.

Furthermore, PSPs have robust compliance systems in place, including anti-fraud measures, KYC and AML checks, PCI DSS compliance, and GDPR adherence. These systems provide an added layer of security, mitigating the risk of non-compliance and the associated financial and reputational damage. 

In this era of digital transformation, PSPs also offer advanced technological solutions. They incorporate state-of-the-art features such as digital wallets, mobile payments, and API integrations, enhancing the customer experience while ensuring seamless payment processing.

Partnering with a PSP is not merely an operational decision but a strategic one, allowing businesses to focus on their core competencies while the PSP manages the complexities of international payment processing and compliance. Consequently, they can confidently expand their global footprint, knowing that their financial transactions are in safe and expert hands.


The importance of understanding and adhering to global payment regulations in international business cannot be overstated. With an ever-evolving regulatory landscape, businesses must stay updated and seek expert guidance when necessary. 

This guide serves as a starting point, but for further resources or consultation, it is recommended to reach out to experienced professionals or trusted PSPs. 

At Trust Payments, we have a global presence with offices and experts worldwide and decades of experience to help with all your commerce needs. Reach out to us to start your international payments journey!

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