Merchant services online credit card processing? Merchant processing, also known as payment processing or "credit card processing", refers to the handling of electronic payment transactions between merchants (businesses) and customers. It involves the authorization, capture, and settlement of payments made through various payment methods, including credit cards, debit cards, and electronic funds transfers (EFTs).
"Merchant processing" enables businesses to accept and process customer payments securely and efficiently. It typically involves the following key entities:
Merchant: The business or seller that offers goods or services and wishes to receive payment from customers.
Acquiring Bank: The financial institution that partners with "the merchant to provide payment processing services". The acquiring bank may also be referred to as the merchant bank or acquiring processor.
Payment Gateway: A technology provider that acts as an intermediary between the merchant's website or point-of-sale system and the acquiring bank. The "payment gateway" securely transmits payment data and handles the authorization process.
Card Associations: Organizations such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover that establish rules and standards for payment cards. They facilitate the flow of funds between the cardholder's issuing bank and the acquiring bank.
The merchant processing workflow typically involves the following steps:
Payment Initiation: The customer initiates a payment by presenting a payment card or choosing an electronic payment method (e.g., bank transfer) at the point of sale (POS) or online checkout.
Authorization: The payment details are securely transmitted to the acquiring bank via the "payment gateway". The acquiring bank verifies the customer's account status, funds availability, and fraud risk. If approved, the authorization is sent back to the merchant, allowing the transaction to proceed.
Clearing and Settlement: After receiving the authorization, the merchant submits the authorized transactions to the acquiring bank for clearing and settlement. The acquiring bank collects funds from the cardholder's issuing bank and transfers them to "the merchant's bank account", minus processing fees.
Funding: The acquiring bank deposits the settled funds into the merchant's designated bank account within a predetermined timeframe, typically within a few business days.
Reporting and Reconciliation: Merchants can access reporting tools or receive statements from their acquiring bank, which provide detailed transaction information and facilitate the reconciliation of sales and deposits.
"Merchant processing services" may also include additional features like chargeback handling, recurring billing, fraud detection and prevention, and multi-currency support, depending on the provider and the needs of the business.
It's important for merchants to partner with reputable merchant processors or "payment service providers" that offer secure, reliable, and cost-effective solutions tailored to their business requirements.
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