• How to Make a Telegraphic Transfer (T/T) to a Chinese Supplier

    Posted on 35 Comments

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    Telegraphic Transfer (T/T), which commonly called ‘Wire transfer’ is still the most common payment method, when transferring money internationally.

    Yet, making Telegraphic Transfer payments is not without risk. In fact, the risks involved are far bigger than most importers might think.

    In this article, we explain why a slight misspelling could result in tens of thousands of dollars being withheld by the receiving bank – and why you should never pay privately held bank accounts.

    Keep reading, and learn how you can avoid payment delays, scams, and other Telegraphic Transfer related issues.

    1. Get the beneficiary name, address and other account details right

    When writing money to your supplier’s bank account, you need to make sure that all beneficiary and bank details are correctly, and fully filled in.

    If, for example, the beneficiary name is not correctly typed in, the money will be withheld by the Chinese bank – and finally returned back to you.

    This is indeed a good security measure, but this will cost you at least 2 to 3 weeks. In addition, you don’t get the bank transaction charges from neither your bank or the suppliers. But, that quite irrelevant, in comparison to what a month long delay could cost your business.

    So, why is this even an issue to begin with?

    First, Chinese company names tend to be long.

    In fact, they tend to be too long for most internet banking systems. As a result, new buyers tend type in as many characters as the system allows them, and leave the rest for the receiving bank to figure out.

    For example, ‘Shenzhen Feihang Optoelectronics Co., Limited’ is shortened into ‘ Shenzhen Feihang Optoelectr…’ However, the result is almost always a rejected Telegraphic transfer transaction.

    With this in mind, I advise you to do the following:

    a. Never shorten the company name, even if it’s too long for the ‘beneficiary name’ field. Instead, type in the remaining part in the ‘beneficiary address’ field.

    b. Check if the suppliers registered ‘beneficiary address’ is registered with the bank. Many companies don’t bother to notify their bank when they change address.


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    2. Make sure you pay the right company

    The risk of payment frauds are always present when transferring money internationally. As such, you must always check if the bank account beneficiary name is matching the name of the company, you buy the products from.

    The problem is that there are various reasons, both legitimate and illegitimate, for Chinese manufacturers to request payments to a bank account that is not directly held by the same company entity that manufacturers yours products.

    Below follows a few common examples:

    a. Hong Kong Offshore Accounts

    Some suppliers prefer to receive international payments via a Hong Kong registered bank account, which in turn is held by a Hong Kong company. Hence, the supplier is paid indirectly, which makes it rather unclear which company is actually responsible for your products.

    That said, it’s so common that it would be hard to exclude suppliers based on this factor. There are, however, individuals using Hong Kong accounts for far more sinister reasons – payment frauds.

    At a minimum, you should only pay a Hong Kong-registered entity if the beneficiary name resembles that of the entity on the Chinese mainland.

    For example, ‘Hong Kong Feihang Optoelectronics Co., Limited’ or likely related to ‘Shenzhen Feihang Optoelectronics Co., Limited’ But, if the beneficiary name and the company name have no resemblance, you should be cautious.

    telegraphic transfers

    b. Export Agent Accounts

    Some smaller manufacturers don’t have export license. As such, they use Export agents, to clear their products through the Chinese customs.

    This requires that the Export agent sells the products to you, and then use your money to buy the products from the supplier.

    Of course, this comes at a fee, usually set at 2 to 3%. For you, this means that you will not pay your supplier, but their export agent.

    These are two different entities, which means that the beneficiary name is not that of the supplier. There is a risk, that the Export agent is not really an Export agent. However, I am not aware of any fraud cases involving Export agents.

    c. Private Bank Accounts

    There’s no good reason to wire business payments to a private bank account. You would probably never do that in your country.

    hsbc bronze lion

    3. Pay all bank transaction fees. Including the beneficiary bank fees

    When suppliers quote a price, they don’t take bank transaction fees into considering. Not even the fees charged by their own bank. Some suppliers may refuse to start production until the deposit is paid in full. To avoid delays, make sure you pay both yours – and the beneficiary bank fees.

    4. Save a transaction record and send it to your supplier

    For unknown reasons, Chinese account managers are allergic to checking their own bank accounts, and tracing payments made by their customers. For this reason, they want you to send them a so-called ‘payment record’. This is not a formal document, but could be anything that shows the following details:

    • Beneficiary name
    • Beneficiary address
    • Bank account number
    • Transaction Date
    • Paid Amount

    In most cases, a print screen of your internet bank will do.

    What can I do if something goes wrong with the Telegraphic transfer (T/T) payment?

    In case you manage to type in the wrong beneficiary information, there are two things you can do: a. Wait for the money to be returned to your bank account. This can, however, take up to three weeks. b. Contact your bank and submit the correct bank account details. This will cost you, but could save you several weeks.

    rmb cash

    Can I make international wire transfers in Chinese Yuan (RMB)?

    Paying suppliers using RMB, from outside of China, is not available in most countries. There are some exceptions though, such as Switzerland.

    It’s possible that RMB payments will become widely available at some point in the future, but the US Dollar reigns supreme in international trade for now.

    Can I pay my supplier using a service like TransferMate or TransferWise?


    Yes, cross border wire transfer services can be used to pay suppliers in China, and other countries in Asia. Using services like TransferMate or TransferWise can help you save hundreds of dollars per transaction, as banks normally charge around 3 to 5% – while these services often charge less than 1%.

    • Supplier email
    • Supplier company name
    • Business license number
    • Bank account number
    • Bank address
    • Bank
    • SWIFT Code

    Can I save money by opening a bank account in Hong Kong?

    Wire transfer fees from Hong Kong to Mainland China tend to be somewhat lower, compared to international wire transfers. However, opening a Hong Kong bank account normally requires that you setup a Hong Kong company.

    While you can setup a simple postbox company, the yearly maintenance costs will likely cost you far more than you’ll save on bank fees.

    In addition, TransferMate and TransferWise already offer lower international wire transfer fees than Hong Kong banks. In other words, it’s probably worth it.

    Do you have more to share about Telegraphic Transfer (T/T) payments to suppliers in Asia?

    Maybe we missed something, or perhaps you have personal experiences to share with us and our readers? We’d love to hear from you. Simply write a comment, using the form below. We read and reply to every single comment.

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  • 35 Responses to “How to Make a Telegraphic Transfer (T/T) to a Chinese Supplier

    1. Renaud at 7:37 pm

      I agree that sending money to a private bank account is not good. But maybe one should distinguish between two situations:
      – It is not very frequent when ordering a batch of products. For anything above 500 USD, I would very strongly suggest to pay only company accounts.
      – It is quite frequent when ordering samples. The supplier wants to keep paperwork to a minimum, and also (usually) evade tax. But I often advise to push the supplier for a payment to their bank account, at least the first time you buy samples. It confirms the fact that they do have a company and you can send money to that company once you place a bigger order.

      1. ChinaImportal at 5:37 am

        Hi Renaud,

        As usual, I can only agree with you.

      2. Boris at 2:34 pm

        Hi Renaud,

        Good idea about paying for sample to supplier’s bank account. Despite high wiring fee you can actually have peace of mind that youy are sending to real company and if it’s real company know their bank account number. This is a good risk management move than paying for sample by other means and then worrying how bank account payment would go for large order.

        I tried to send confirmed PO to supplier’s fax number because it is just another way of communication that can be handy if there’s a lack of response from them or their communication channels were hacked. In this case fax would be way to go to confirm their correct bank account and compare with one in email.

        After failed fax attempts I called the number and heard music on hold which gave me impression it’s actual service line. I was told by one of reps that faxing in China is domestic and doesn’t accept faxes from outisde. I am not sure how true this is though.

    2. William at 6:18 am

      I went to the company in China to make deposit but after I left they want payment to sent to personal account of the General Manager because they have issue with their dollar account. I took the National ID card of the boss but am not convice. What do I do

      1. ChinaImportal at 8:21 am

        Hi William,

        Find another supplier. Never pay to personal accounts.

    3. Amar at 2:40 am

      Is agreement made like LC in T/T?can a importer make agreement like LC in telegraphic transfer

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 6:51 am

        Hi Amar,

        L/C and T/T are two different payment methods. You can search for Letter of Credit here on our website to find out more.

    4. BASHIR at 6:59 pm

      Thank you for enlightenment.
      I transferred 10,000 USD to my supplier beneficiary bank with correct swift code. But, omitted 1 digit out of 22 digits of beneficiary account number. Then, I received telex copy of Fx transaction done in my DOMICILARY account via email.
      Unfortunately’ my supplier still not received the money yet. Amendment of beneficiary account details in bank will cost me what charges?

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 11:31 am

        Hi Bashir,

        I would expect 40-50 USD, but it depends on the bank and which country you live in. You better act on this very fast!

    5. Ty at 11:00 am

      Hello,

      One thing that also needs mentioning is that apart from paying both wire transfer fees upfront (sender’s and recipient’s bank), the recipient bank (in this case Singapore) also takes an additional 5-6 % of the total payment, which can be an unexpected as well.

      Is this common when doing international wire transfers?

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 11:32 am

        Hi Ty,

        5-10% is way too high. Should not be more than $50-60 per transaction.

        For small amounts (below $3000), you might want to consider Paypal instead

    6. Bee at 2:51 pm

      Hi Frederik

      I made a payment to an alibaba seller via t/t. Now they are requesting I am responsible for their bank fees. This was not outlined in the trade assurance agreement. I confirmed with them prior to payment that there were ‘no hidden or additional costs’. Now I have had to open a dispute with alibaba. Am I responsible for their banking institutions fees that are imposed on them as bank account holders, shouldn’t they be aware of bank fees when they operate as a business?

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 11:58 am

        Hi Bee,

        The standard term is that the buyer pays for all bank charges, including those of the supplier.

        The supplier could of course “include” this cost, but they would then have to add it to the unit price. Hence, it is more transparent if the supplier quotes the actual unit price, and don’t include bank fees or other charges.. including those charged by their Chinese bank

    7. RATUL HASSAN at 3:48 am

      I made TT of 5100 USD and send TT advice copy to my seller company but they asked for bank swift copy.what does it mean?

      1. Ivan Malloci at 11:48 am

        Hello Ratul,

        A SWIFT copy is an extract of the electronic payment document. If you google it you will find a lot of information about this specific document

    8. maxell at 2:57 am

      hello
      I wired money from south korea to hk to my suppliers correct details for a week plus now and he have not received the money what may be the problem because i contacted my bank they transaction went successful.

      1. Ivan Malloci at 3:18 am

        Hi there,

        I’m sorry but we can’t know what happen among banks

    9. Lim at 3:23 am

      Hi, I made a mistake of entering an extra “International” into the company name for T/T payment, every other info are correct, what would happen to the money I transferred?? Would it bounce back to me and if so how long does it take?

      1. Ivan Malloci at 3:59 am

        Hello Lim,

        yes, it could bounce back if the company name is incorrect. I’m not sure how long it will take: it will depend on the banks, currencies and countries involved. You could try to contact both your bank and the destination bank to gather more information.

    10. LJ at 10:03 am

      Hello,
      may I know if i am able to make a T/T payment to china supplier from Singapore, but the purchase is from Thailand & good delivery to thailand.

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 6:04 pm

        Hi LJ,

        This sounds like a payment fraud in the making. Do NOT pay to an account in China if the supplier is supposed to be located in Thailand (or vice versa). Further, the beneficiary name must also match that of the company.

    11. Simon at 5:46 pm

      Hi,
      I want to make a payment to my supplier who is in china but i want to use a securer way here i mean for example trough alibaba T/T transfer. I want to know if this works with money transfer via swift transfer. thanks

    12. Awena at 5:34 am

      Hi my company has been subject to bank mandate fraud when importing goods from china. The fraudsters intercepted the payment request form and changed bank mandate details. When we queried with the supplier they responded to say that yes this is ok they set up an account in malaysia for tax purposes. We now know the factory did not receive any money and so it appears we have been scam victims. The goods arrive tomorrow but the factory won’t release them as they did not receive the money. Help! Advice needed urgently please!! Do we go into more financial risk and pay them more money and if so how can we ever do this securely?? We cannot trust TT anymore. Thanks

      1. Ivan Malloci at 12:36 pm

        Hello Awena,

        I’m not a lawyer, and in the case of frauds you shall talk with a lawyer. Also, I have not enough info to fully assess the situation.

        However, here I don’t think the problem is “T/T”. The problem, if I understand it correctly, seems to be that you sent the money to a bank account that doesn’t belong to the supplier. And that is a costly mistake indeed.

        We always recommend to only send the money to the bank account of the supplier, ie. the bank account that has the following characteristics:

        Beneficiary name is the same exact company name of your supplier, as it appears on their business license (which you can verify)
        Beneficiary address is the same exact address of your supplier, as it appears on their business license (which you can verify)
        The bank is located in the same city of the supplier

        1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 8:16 pm

          Yes, this is certainly a payment fraud. You should contact the Malaysian bank ASAP.

    13. Emuoboyin Cephas at 7:20 pm

      Hi Fredrick,
      I am new in the business,I just need you to guide me , please,I want to know if I can use Alibaba for my transaction s.tanks
      Cephas

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 5:03 pm

        Hello,

        Alibaba.com accepts various payment methods, including T/T.

    14. Cesar Bravo de Rueda at 3:48 am

      Hi Fredrik,

      This is the first time I’m buying something from Alibaba. The supplier is responsive and overall seems to have everything in order. They are asking me to pay via Trade Assurance to a bank located in Singapore (I have read your post and you mention only HK). The supplier is however located in China. Is this normal? Any risk according to your previous experience?

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 5:01 pm

        Hi Cesar,

        I know that Alibaba is using Singapore banks for Trade Assurance payments. Is this the supplier’s bank account or an Alibaba account?

    15. SSwift at 8:28 pm

      For smaller transactions, Paypal is better than wire right? Because it costs a lot to wire money. I don’t see a point a losing money. Do you agree?

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 8:00 pm

        Hi Steve,

        That depends. How small?

    16. Agyie at 3:08 pm

      hi, do you know which payment method is better if i want to buy something from 1688? 担保交易 or 信任付?

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 8:26 pm

        1688 is for domestic B2B trade inside China. Hence, most of the supplier don’t have foreign currency accounts or export licenses.

    17. Victor at 12:22 pm

      Hi,
      I placed an order on Alibaba my deposit I paid via the Alibaba site so that I get the trade assurance. The supplier seems responsive and ok. But now when I need to pay the remaining balance for the goods to be shipped, they don’t want it to go through Alibaba for “tax purposes which is hard to explain”. Would you know what this means?
      I feel more safe to pay via Alibaba vs wire transfer since Alibaba takes responsibility in case something goes wrong with the shipment…
      They also accept T/T and wire transfer, but this is the first time I am dealing with this supplier, what if the goods that arrive are not as expected?

      your insight is appreciated
      thank you

      Please Help

      Thank you!

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 8:25 pm

        Hi Victor,

        Correct, you should not pay to a different account. If you do, then the order is not covered by Trade Assurance.

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