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  • Writer's pictureBartley Joseph

Navigating the Pitfalls of Third-Party Payment Mechanisms for South African Sole Proprietors Serving Overseas Clients

Given the advent of remote working and the dire employment situation in South Africa, many professionals are now offering their services to overseas clients. They are typically doing this as either Independent Contractors or as Employees of foreign companies and are receiving payment via Third Party Payment services such as PayPal. Typically, these persons opt to operate as  South African sole proprietors providing services to overseas clients and make use of these third parties to invoice and receive payments.


While technology has facilitated cross-border transactions, the use of third-party payment mechanisms introduces a set of challenges and pitfalls that can impact the financial well-being and reputation of sole proprietors. In this article, we'll explore some of the common pitfalls associated with receiving payments via third-party platforms when offering services to international clients as a sole proprietor in South Africa.

  1. Currency Conversion Costs: One of the primary challenges is the conversion of payments into the local currency. Third-party payment mechanisms often charge fees for currency conversion, which can significantly eat into the earnings of the sole proprietor. It is crucial to be aware of these fees and consider their impact on the overall profitability of the business.

  2. Fluctuating Exchange Rates: Exchange rates can be volatile, leading to uncertainty in the actual amount received by the sole proprietor. Sudden changes in exchange rates can result in financial losses or gains, making it difficult to predict the actual value of the payment. It is advisable to monitor exchange rates closely and explore options for hedging against currency fluctuations if feasible.

  3. Transaction Delays: Depending on the third-party payment mechanism used, there may be delays in the processing of transactions. These delays can affect the cash flow of the sole proprietor, especially if the business relies on timely payments to cover operational expenses. It's essential to choose a reliable payment platform that ensures prompt and efficient transaction processing.

  4. Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Cross-border transactions often involve navigating through complex legal and regulatory landscapes. Different countries may have varying rules regarding international payments, taxation, and financial regulations. Sole proprietors must stay informed about the legal requirements in both South Africa and the client's country to avoid legal issues and potential penalties.

  5. Security Concerns: Security is a paramount concern when using third-party payment platforms. While many reputable platforms implement robust security measures, there is always a risk of data breaches or fraudulent activities. Sole proprietors must prioritise platforms with strong security protocols and regularly update their own cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive client information.

  6. Limited Payment Options: Some third-party payment mechanisms may offer limited payment options, restricting the flexibility for international clients to make payments. This limitation can potentially lead to a loss of business if clients prefer alternative payment methods that are not supported by the chosen platform. It's advisable to choose a payment solution that caters to a wide range of payment preferences.

  7. Customer Support Challenges: Dealing with customer support, especially when operating in different time zones, can be challenging. In the event of payment issues or disputes, sole proprietors may find it difficult to get timely assistance. Choosing a payment platform with reliable customer support, including options for multilingual assistance, can mitigate this challenge.

  8. Expensive Exercise: Third-party providers are becoming very pricy and all too often there are hidden costs that are not immediately apparent to sole proprietors, viz.




Rate for services rendered: R100,000


Third Party Payment Fee: 3,5% plus R5,68 = R 3,505.68 (excl. VAT)

Currency Conversion Fee: 2,5%                  = R 2,500.00

Bank Withdrawal Fee: 1,5%                           = R 1,500.00

TOTAL COST:                                 = R 7505.68


Alternative: Typical fee using a EOR as Independent Contractor: R 1500.


While third-party payment mechanisms offer convenience and accessibility for South African sole proprietors engaging in international business, it's crucial to approach them with caution. Being aware of the potential pitfalls associated with currency conversion costs, fluctuating exchange rates, transaction delays, legal and regulatory compliance, security concerns, limited payment options, and customer support challenges can empower sole proprietors to make informed decisions and implement strategies to safeguard their financial interests and reputation. By navigating these challenges effectively, sole proprietors can enhance their global business operations and build stronger, more resilient client relationships.


Probably the most effective and efficient way of receiving payment from foreign clients is to work via an EOR service provider. For peace-of-mind compliance and reduced risk, Independent Contractors should seriously consider approaching an EOR provider, and in the process safe significant costs.


For an obligation-free quotation contact OUTprof now:



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