Paying remote employees, contractors and freelancers can get complicated, especially when your team spans multiple countries and continents. There’s a lot to navigate.

Luckily, there are several platform options to make online payroll processing for remote businesses easier.

This guide looks at four popular virtual payment platforms (PayPal, Payoneer, Wise, and Bitwage) and discusses their pros, cons, and recommended use cases.

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Differences between PayPal, Payoneer, Wise, and Bitwage (fees and comparison chart)

PayPal, Payoneer, Wise, and Bitwage all have their pros and cons. Depending on your business, one might be a better or worse option for you.

PayPal is widely used and trusted by both businesses and individuals and has a fixed fee of 2% on payroll payments. According to reviews, it does suffer from inconsistent quality of customer support.

On the other hand, Payoneer doesn’t charge companies for payroll transfers but rather charges recipients a fixed fee of $3. However, businesses need to be making at least $30,000 in transfers every month to be eligible to use Payoneer’s Mass Payout service.

Wise allows you to send up to 1,000 payments at a time and has low transaction fees — under 1% in most cases. The downside is that it’s only available in 70 countries. If you have employees in one or more unsupported countries, you’re out of luck.

Finally, Bitwage enables businesses to pay their employees in cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is a preferred option in some parts of the world where the local currency might be unstable. However, funding payroll through Bitwage can be very costly, depending on which funding option you use.

Here’s a handy chart you can use to compare these four payment platforms:

Chart: PayPal vs. Payoneer vs. Wise vs. Bitwage

PayPal

PayPal

PayPal is by far the most popular online payment service. PayPal Payouts is a convenient way to pay employees, contractors, and freelancers.

It supports 180 countries and 24 currencies.

To start using PayPal Payouts, register for a business account. When sending payments to employees, enter their email address or mobile phone number and add an optional note.

You can send payments in a currency different from the recipient’s main currency. In these cases, PayPal will perform the currency conversion automatically. However, individual payments can’t exceed $20,000 or the equivalent in your local currency.

You can track the status of each payment in your account. PayPal can also notify you when your payments are sent successfully.

With PayPal Payouts, businesses pay a 2% fee for each payment they make. Recipients don’t pay any fees.

Your account stores detailed payout records that you can download and import into your accounting software.

PayPal Payouts is suitable for a wide variety of big and small businesses looking for a way to streamline their payroll process.

While PayPal’s mass payout service has plenty of advantages, the security features occasionally cause issues. Some reviews mention frozen funds due to overzealous security algorithms. Others see customer support issues dragged out for weeks.

Pros

  • Widely used
  • Easy setup
  • Very secure payment option

Cons

  • Inconsistent customer support
  • Risk of getting funds frozen

Who it’s for

  • Companies that don’t need to send individual payments larger than $20,000

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Payoneer

Payoneer

Payoneer is a cross-border payment platform that supports more than 200 countries and 150 currencies. Businesses can use it to pay their employees without having to spend money on fees.

Instead of charging companies for payouts, Payoneer charges recipients an average transfer fee of $3.

Employees can withdraw payments to their local bank account. Alternatively, they can register a Payoneer account and apply for a debit card.

Before you can start using Payoneer to pay your employees, you must create a Payoneer Mass Payout account. The only condition is that you need to make at least $30,000 in transfers every month.

Once you register an account, you’ll be able to set up mass payouts using Payoneer’s Mass Payout API or by uploading a spreadsheet with payment instructions.

Pros

  • Funds transfer within minutes
  • Multiple options for recipients to withdraw their earnings
  • 24/7 support

Cons

  • Businesses need to be making at least $30,000 in transfers every month to be eligible to use Payoneer’s Mass Payout service.

Who it’s for

  • Companies that are spending at least $30,000 per month on paying employees, freelancers, or contractors

Wise

Wise (formerly TransferWise)

Wise (previously known as TransferWise) became a popular payment platform in recent years, primarily due to its small transfer fees.

It offers a batch payments tool businesses can use to send up to 1,000 payments at a time. All you need to do is upload a spreadsheet with payment details and make a single transfer to cover all the payments. Wise takes care of the rest.

You can speed up the process using built-in or custom-made templates. There’s also the option to automate your payroll with Wise’s API.

Transfer fees depend on monthly volume and vary by currency but are in most cases less than 1% of the transfer amount.

The platform integrates with accounting tools such as QuickBooks and Xero. This integration allows you to add your payroll records to your accounting software automatically.

Wise is currently available in 70 countries and supports more than 40 currencies.

Pros

  • Low transfer fees
  • Detailed support documentation
  • 24/7 customer support

Cons

  • Available in only 70 countries
  • Limited availability of Wise debit cards

Who it’s for

  • Businesses that have employees in Wise’s supported countries and are looking for a way to pay them without having to cover exorbitant transfer fees

Bitwage

Bitwage

Bitwage is a payroll platform that supports cryptocurrency payments in Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin cash (BCH), Ether (ETH), and USD Coin (USDC).

The USD Coin option is the most interesting one, considering that USDC is a stable cryptocurrency linked to the price of the U.S. dollar.

This USD coin option means that the value of the money you send won’t fluctuate between sending a payment and receiving it.

In some global communities, this has become the preferred way of paying employees and freelancers. This method helps address the economic impacts of fluctuating national currency values against the U.S. dollar.

After setting up a company account, businesses can invite their employees to join the platform. The next step is to upload a payroll spreadsheet and fund payroll using one of these options:

  • Wire transfer
  • ACH credit or debit
  • SEPA
  • Credit card

Payroll funding is free for wire and ACH credit transfers. They charge ACH debit and all credit card funding as follows:

  • ACH debit – 0.5% + $0.5 per payroll
  • Credit card – 3.5% + $0.3 per payroll

Employees receive their payments within 48 hours. Bitwage charges them $10 for incoming wires and no fees for incoming ACH credit.

Pros

  • Free payroll funding options
  • Quick transfers

Cons

  • No support for fiat currency payments
  • Limited support documentation

Who it’s for

  • Companies that want to offer their employees the option to get paid with cryptocurrency

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Automate payroll with Hubstaff

Hubstaff enables you to track your employees’ work hours, generate detailed timesheets, and pay your team for their time. Opt for fixed or hourly rates and set different rates for each team member.

Hubstaff dashboard

You can process payroll automatically through Hubstaff’s integrations with PayPal, Payoneer, Wise, and Bitwage. Thanks to integrations with popular accounting solutions, Hubstaff also makes sure your books stay in order.

Want more great tips to help you manage your remote team? Check out these top articles:

This post was originally published in November 2015. It was updated in March 2020 and May 2021.