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I'm running an eCommerce website that allows users to select their preferred currency via a drop-down in their shopping cart. The currencies are localized using real-time exchange rates from a JSON API and are pretty accurate, but not guaranteed.

My payment processing system only allows incoming payments to be in Canadian currency and I make sure to explain this to users in my FAQ - the localized currency is simply for comparison purposes.

With that said, would it make sense to show everything leading up to that final checkout in their localized currency (should they choose it from the dropdown) and then send out the final receipt showing Canadian currency? At the end of the day, I don't really know the exact amount that the users payed in their local currency nor do I know the exchange fee that the bank charges to convert it to Canadian.

  • I just want to add that this could also be a legal problem. You should consult an expert in this field. – Pablo Aug 4 '14 at 18:52
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Sadly, I think you need to show it in Canadian at the end - otherwise if there's a problem, how the heck is the user supposed to even know what's going on, let alone do something about it?

You're going to also need to show that Canadian number at the last step, to remind the user that they are paying in Canadian dollars, not -other currency- and that you can't control their bank fees.

I'd try putting something like 'estimated price' on the -other currency- stuff all the way through, just to try to be clear that it's not a guarantee.

The other thing you should do is make sure you have a policy in place as to how you are going to handle people who claim they didn't know the real price. There's always a few people who can't figure out what's going on around them, and you should decide in advance how to handle them.

  • The receipt must specify the sum in the currency actually used. In most countries, it would be illegal to do otherwise. An estimate in other currencies can be given at earlier phases, if clearly flagged as informative and non-binding. Note that even if you use some real-time conversion rates, the bank of the customer may use completely different rates and may impose some charges. – Jukka K. Korpela May 27 '14 at 19:03
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If you show abroad users an amount to pay in their currency, you have to sell for that price no matter your exchange rate. As you say it's "pretty accurate" so you can without much risk stand by your foreign price.

If not - show the Canadian currency only.

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    +1 for show Canadian currency only (and where the $ is used make damn sure it's clear it's Canadian. You don't want to get caught out! I've bought things in different currencies and I just accept that other countries use different money. You can embed a currency converter from a 3rd party in the page for users to do their own conversions. This is the best way for small businesses. A large business will require localised currencies but should be billed in those currencies. – Level River St May 27 '14 at 22:15
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    Note that if you do US $ as well as Canadian $, you WILL have some people not understand, no matter how well placed things are on the site. As long as the number is small, it's probably not you. – Michael Kohne May 28 '14 at 1:56

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