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Hedging in International Business: How do they work in B2B payments

Some consider it unethical. Others don't care as long as they are saving big bucks. 


Some consider hedging in international business unethical. Others don't care as long as they are saving big bucks. It does not matter which category you fall under as a business owner, knowing about hedging in international business is important.

So in this blog, we talk about what hedging is in international business, what are the advantages of hedging in international business, the disadvantages, and things to avoid while hedging in international business for cross-border payments.  

Read on …. 

What is hedging in International Business? 

When a company books a hedge, it's like locking in a specific exchange rate for a set amount of money and a particular time in the future. This helps businesses be sure about how much they'll pay when making international business payments

Otherwise, if they wait until later to make the payment without a hedge, they might end up paying more or less due to changes in exchange rates, which can impact their costs and profits. Booking a hedge gives businesses a clear and certain exchange rate for a known amount, adding predictability to their financial business transactions.

Terms in International Business hedging: What you need to know

Foreign exchange natural hedge in international business 

A natural hedge is like a balancing act for businesses. It happens when a company deals in a currency that isn't their home currency for both receiving money and making payments. This kind of evens things out. But, sometimes, the timing of the money coming in and going out might not match up perfectly. In those cases, a currency specialist can step in to help smooth out the differences.

When are FX forward contracts used by businesses?

A forward contract is like a safety net for businesses dealing with International payments. For example, if a UK company sells things abroad, they can use a forward contract to lock in a specific exchange rate. This way, when they bring the money back to the UK, they don't have to worry about the value changing and losing money due to unpredictable currency shifts.

Similarly, if a UK company is buying things from a foreign supplier and has a contract for a year, it can use a forward contract to set a fixed exchange rate. This helps them avoid surprises in costs caused by currency changes during the contract, making it easier to plan and budget.

Hedging in International Business: How does it work? 

Let's explore a scenario involving ABC Inc., a U.S.-based company importing goods from a European supplier. ABC Inc. is set to make a payment of €100,000 in three months, with the current exchange rate standing at 1 USD = 0.85 EUR.

Without Hedging in International Business:

If ABC Inc. doesn't hedge and waits until the payment date, the exchange rate might change. Suppose the exchange rate on the payment date is 1 USD = 0.80 EUR.

In this case, ABC Inc. would end up paying more in U.S. dollars than initially planned. The cost in USD would be $125,000 (€100,000 / 0.80).

With Hedging in International Business:

Alternatively, ABC Inc. decides to hedge its currency risk by entering into a forward contract to buy €100,000 in three months at the current rate of 1 USD = 0.85 EUR. When the payment date arrives, regardless of the market exchange rate at that time, ABC Inc. is obligated to exchange at the agreed-upon rate of 1 USD = 0.85 EUR. With the hedge, ABC Inc. pays $117,647 (€100,000 / 0.85), saving money compared to the scenario without hedging.

In this example, by using a forward contract to hedge against the currency risk, ABC Inc. ensures a known and fixed cost in U.S. dollars for its cross-border payment, providing protection against adverse exchange rate movements and promoting financial predictability.

Think of hedging as a shield against the ups and downs of currency values. It's a way for businesses to protect themselves from unexpected losses or gains caused by changes in exchange rates. 

For international payments, hedging is super important. It helps make sure that the project's budget and money coming in or going out match up with the expected costs and earnings in different currencies. This way, if exchange rates move in an unfavorable way, hedging steps in to protect the project's success and profits.

Why do businesses opt for hedging in International Business? 

Hedging is like a financial safety net that companies use. They can employ tools such as futures, options, swaps, or forward contracts to make sure they get a set or good exchange rate for a transaction happening sometime in the future. 

This way, they protect themselves from the uncertainty of currency changes and ensure a predictable cost or income down the road.

Benefits of Hedging in International Business

  1. Knowing about  Currency Exposure:

Companies look at their transactions involving foreign currencies, like paying for imports or receiving money from exports, to see how much they might be affected by changes in currency values.

  1. Checking the Risks:

Once they know how much their transactions could be impacted, businesses look at the potential risks of currency changes on the cost of goods, profits, and overall financial performance. This helps them understand how much they might be at risk financially.

  1. Using Hedging Tools:

Companies have tools to help them protect against these risks, like:

a) Forward Contracts: 

Locking in a set exchange rate for a future date to know exactly how much a foreign currency will cost during payment.

b) Options Contracts: 

Having the flexibility to buy or sell a currency at a set rate, pr protection from bad currency changes while allowing for gains in good ones.

c) Futures Contracts: provides

Similar to forward contracts, these let companies secure an exchange rate for a future date.

  1. Smart Decisions:

Companies make smart decisions about when and how much to protect themselves. They consider things like how much currency values might change, how much risk they're comfortable with, and the specific details of their international deals.

  1. Balancing Costs and Benefits:

Companies weigh the costs of using these protective measures against the potential losses they might face if currency values move against them. It's like deciding if the insurance cost is worth the protection it provides.

  1. Keeping an Eye on Things:

Because currency values can change a lot, companies have to keep an eye on what's happening in the market. They might need to adjust their protection strategies based on how quickly things are changing.

When would a business not opt for hedging in International Business?

A business may choose not to hedge foreign currency for cross-border payments in certain situations, depending on its risk tolerance, financial strategy, and specific circumstances. Here are some scenarios where a business might opt not to hedge foreign currency:

  1. High Confidence in Exchange Rate Direction:

If a business has a strong conviction or market insight that the exchange rate for a particular currency will move in a favorable direction, it might choose not to hedge. For example, if the business anticipates that the foreign currency will strengthen, not hedging could result in better financial outcomes.

  1. Low Transaction Value:

For smaller transactions with relatively low values, the cost of implementing hedging strategies might outweigh the potential benefits. In such cases, businesses might decide that the inherent currency risk is acceptable given the transaction size.

  1. Risk Acceptance:

Some businesses, especially those with a higher risk tolerance, may accept the natural currency exposure as part of doing international business. They may be willing to take on the risk with the understanding that currency fluctuations are a normal part of global trade.

  1. Short-Term Transactions:

For short-term transactions or when dealing with highly liquid currencies, businesses might decide that the short duration of the transaction minimizes the impact of currency fluctuations, making hedging unnecessary.

  1. Integrated Global Operations:

Companies with integrated global operations, where revenues and costs are spread across different currencies, may find that currency movements balance out over time. In such cases, they might choose not to hedge as a natural hedge is created within their business structure.

  1. Operational Constraints:

Implementing hedging strategies can involve administrative and operational efforts. If a business faces constraints or complexities in executing and managing hedging instruments, it might opt not to hedge.

  1. Cost Considerations:

The costs associated with using hedging instruments, such as fees or premiums, can influence the decision. If the cost of hedging outweighs the potential benefits, a business may choose not to hedge.

  1. Strategic Currency Exposure:

Some businesses intentionally maintain a certain level of currency exposure as part of their strategic financial planning. This exposure might be seen as a way to capitalize on favorable currency movements or align with the company's risk management philosophy.

Advantages of Hedging in International Business

In India, using hedging in international business payments comes with several advantages. It becomes a key player in effective payment planning and control. By reducing the uncertainty and fluctuations in currency exchange rates, hedging allows businesses to more accurately predict and budget for their international payment costs. 

Hedging also proves valuable in managing cash flow efficiently ensuring the required currencies are available to meet their payment obligations. 

Beyond these financial benefits, hedging enhances the competitiveness and attractiveness of international business transactions. The increased certainty and transparency brought by hedging eliminate the need for stakeholders to account for additional costs or discounts related to currency risks, ultimately making international business payments more appealing and marketable.

Risks under hedging in International Business 

When it comes to protecting international projects from currency risks, choosing and using hedging strategies is like making careful plans. You need to think about a few important things, like what the project is trying to achieve, who's involved, how much risk the project can handle, and what options are available.

Based on these considerations, project managers can create strategies that work best for their project. This includes picking the right tools, such as futures, options, swaps, or forward contracts. They also need to decide how much and when to use these tools and find a good partner to help with the hedging.

Final Word

All - in -all, hedging in international business is a gamble. It is based purely on the probability of the rates going higher or lower. If done right, hedging in international business can help save your business millions.

Would you opt for hedging in international business for your company? 

Karbon Forex provides forex services for international B2B payments. Contact us to know more! 

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