With English and Filipino as its official languages and a rapidly growing tech industry, the Philippines is a popular place for US companies to hire contractors, especially for customer support positions in tech. After finding qualified workers to hire, companies often find that paying foreign contractors can be complicated. What are the best ways to pay international independent contractors in the Philippines, without incurring expensive exchange fees for your company or your team members?
In other articles, we have explored ways to pay foreign independent contractors in Argentina, Brazil, and Poland, countries that are popular among US-based companies looking to hire contractors. Here, we examine some of the most common methods for US companies to pay a foreign independent contractor living in the Philippines, with pros and cons for each method.
Common payment methods for companies hiring independent contractors in the Philippines
1. SWIFT bank transfers 🏛
SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications), a network used by financial institutions worldwide, is a common way to send international payments. A SWIFT transfer enables you to securely transfer funds from your company’s bank to your contractor’s bank.
- Pros: SWIFT is secure and widely used by banks.
- Cons: SWIFT can be expensive for both your company and your contractors. SWIFT payments are typically routed through multiple banks before they reach the contractor’s bank account, and each bank can deduct a fee from the funds being transferred, reducing the total amount transferred by as much as $20 to $40 USD per payment. The deductions are often random and arbitrary; the same payment can go through the same banks, yet be charged different fee amounts each time, so that it’s difficult for employers to plan ahead for them. If the contractor is receiving the payment at their local bank, then the bank may charge an additional markup of 3% to 6% for the conversion from USD to the Philippine Peso (PHP). Overall, $20 to even $50 in fees and markups could be deducted from a $400 USD payment, resulting in a lower paycheck amount for your team member.
2. Online money transfer companies 💻
You can use an online money transfer company to pay your contractors. Companies that are well known for sending money to the Philippines include Xoom (owned by PayPal), Remitly, and Wise (formerly Transferwise).
- Pros: Money transfer companies generally provide much better markups on exchange rates than banks do.
- Cons: Though their markups are better than those of banks, money transfer companies typically do still charge percent-based fees or add markup fees for currency exchange, ranging for the Philippines from 1% to 3% or even more, making the exchange rates less than optimal. In addition, some transfers may require your contractors to withdraw money from the service (which includes a withdrawal fee) or to use the service’s debit card in order to access the funds, which again charges transaction fees.
3. Traditional money transfer companies 🏦
"Traditional" money transfer companies such as Western Union and MoneyGram have both online services and brick-and-mortar locations in the US and in the Philippines.
- Pros: In addition to online services, these companies have physical locations in the US and agent locations in the Philippines, where your independent contractor has the option to pick up the payment in person. Traditional money transfer companies can also provide better markups on exchange rates than banks do.
- Cons: Similar to online money transfer companies, traditional ones typically do still charge percent-based fees or add markup fees for currency exchange, so the exchange rates could still be better.
4. Cryptocurrencies 🤑
The use of cryptocurrency is growing rapidly in the Philippines. You may be able to avoid having to work with USD-to-PHP exchange rates in general by paying your independent contractor in cryptocurrency.
- Pros: No need to deal with the exchange rate and exchange fees, at least in terms of transactions that use only fiat money.
- Cons: You need to be set up for sending cryptocurrencies and work with a contractor who is set up to receive them, too. If they would like the cryptocurrency to be converted into PHP, you will still need to deal with exchange rates and possible fees. In addition, local tax laws related to cryptocurrencies vary by location, so while the same tax rules sometimes may not apply for cryptocurrencies as for fiat money, you’ll need to be sure you’re following the regulations correctly to ensure compliance with all laws.
There are many options for paying independent contractors in the Philippines, and unfortunately they can involve hefty fees and markups. The good news is that Pilot offers an alternative solution for US companies hiring foreign independent contractors, in which your international contractors can get paid more ✨.
Pilot is a cloud-based HR platform that manages international payroll, benefits, and compliance for US-based companies. Our platform enables you to pay contractors in PHP currency, using local bank transfers sent to their local bank accounts, and we don't mark up exchange rates.
What's more, because contractors receive the payments in their local Philippine bank accounts, they do not need to use an e-wallet or debit card--the funds go straight to them. We don't charge companies to send payments, and we don't charge contractors for receiving them--so employers and contractors love us.
In addition to helping companies that are hiring independent contractors abroad to send payments, Pilot also offers payroll, benefits, and compliance for US companies hiring remote workers anywhere in the world. Our locally compliant employment contracts follow local laws customized to your international contractor's country and are double-reviewed by US and local legal counsel.
Pilot collects tax forms including W-8 and W-9 forms from your foreign contractor for you, making tax reporting easy. Have questions about labor laws, labor contracts, or compensation for your overseas contractors? What are the legal requirements and tax implications for hiring international employees vs. foreign contractors? What kinds of employee benefits might you want to provide? Pilot's team of legal and HR experts can offer professional advice so that your business can approach hiring and paying contractors in a foreign country in a compliant way.
Looking to hire independent contractors abroad? We're happy to help you, from discussing questions about legal implications to showing you how to easily set up an independent contractor agreement for your international contractor using Pilot's platform. Request a demo with one of our experts.
⚖️ Legal Disclaimer: The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.
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