Building a SaaS service in France targeting american and european customers

25Sep10

With Thibaut (@thibaut_barrere) we recently discovered that we have the same kind of unanswered questions about building a SaaS service in France and billing customers located in US and in Europe.

I, as a european guy, I’m used to buy some services billed in USD (think about Campfire, Hoptoad or Freckle for instance). But I don’t think US customers would pay in EUR. So, do I bill my service in EUR ? In USD ? Both ?
And regarding the VAT, how to handle it with US customers ? With European customers ? If it’s a company or not ? If the customer is european, do I need to ask him his intra-communautary VAT number ? And then, which bank should I use? Which payment provider?

We didn’t find a lot of documentation and feedback around those subjects. If you have, it could be very cool to share them!

We were even afraid that the only answer to those questions would be : build a company in the US, or maybe a subsidiary.

Fortunately, a few days ago, I was at the “Salon Ecommerce” in Paris. A giant ecommerce bar mitzvah where you could meet web shop makers, payment providers, CMS guys, etc.

I went first to MoneyBookers to ask my questions, based on an advice from a Kiubi friend. Well, they cannot provide some answers, and their technical level was not very high… The Paybox guys seemed to be very busy or very “I don’t care that guy wearing a laptop backpack”. And finally I went to the Ogone guys. Well in fact, it was a lady. Who answered a lot of my questions. She answered all of them. And they even have solutions for me.

She told me that I’d better go for a multi currencies approach, with a bank account in USD and another one in EUR. The account in USD should be opened in the US or through an international bank that can open a USD account in the US. And a bank account in EUR in France. She told me that HSBC do this kind of stuff. After that, I can have several geographical areas defined in ogone, tight to one ogone account.
Regarding the VAT mess, Ogone as a “we calculate the VAT for you” option. I’m waiting for some more documentation on this option.



One Response to “Building a SaaS service in France targeting american and european customers”


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