The below terms and definitions are listed to help you navigate and understand the merchant account services languages and information specific to payment processing solutions.
ACQUIRING BANK (ACQUIRER) - A principal member of Visa and MasterCard that acquires data relating to transactions from a merchant or card acceptor for processing. All merchant accounts must be sponsored by a bank that is a member of the card associations (Visa and Mastercard). They are responsible for depositing the funds into your checking account.
ADDRESS VERIFICATION SERVICE (AVS) - AVS is a tool for merchants to reduce the risk associated with card not present transactions, such as mail order, telephone order or Internet transactions. It is a system built into the authorization process that enables a merchant to verify a United States billing address of a customer to the same billing address the Issuing bank has on file.
ADJUSTMENT - An adjustment is initiated by the acquirer to correct a processing error. The error could be a duplication of a transaction or the result of a cardholder dispute. The acquirer debits or credits the merchant DDA account for the dollar amount of the adjustment.
AMERICAN EXPRESS - A company that specializes in the issuance of Travel and Entertainment (T&E) credit cards. American Express services the cards that they issue. They are their own transaction processor with their own processing network.
APPROVAL CODE - The 6-digit code returned to the merchant upon approving a transaction.
ARBITRATION - The procedure used to determine responsibility for a chargeback-related dispute between two members. Visa or MasterCard resolves the dispute between members and decides responsibility for the fines which may be assessed to the participating members.
AUTHORIZATION - The process whereby a transaction is approved by an issuing bank, authorized agent, or Visa/MasterCard on behalf of that issuer, before the transaction is completed by the merchant via telephone or terminal. An approved authorization places a hold against the cardholder's credit limit for the dollar amount approved. Most authorizations have a life cycle of three to five days, then the hold against the cardholder's credit limit is released. A transaction, which settles, will usually match an approved authorization amount and clear it from the authorization status, thus removing the hold against a cardholder's credit limit.
The Authorization process is different for each Merchant type. Different information must be sent depending on whether you are a restaurant, retail establishment, hotel, or mail order/telephone order (MOTO) Merchant. In the case of MOTO, since the transaction does not take place face-to-face, address verification(AVS) is used to guard against fraud.
AUTHORIZATION CODE - A code that indicates approval or denial for an authorization request. The code is returned in the authorization response message and is usually recorded on the transaction receipt as proof of authorization.
AVERAGE TICKET - The average dollar amount of sales drafts processed within a given time period. Calculate the average ticket by taking the total dollar amount of sales drafts processed and dividing it by the total number of sales drafts processed.
AUTOMATED CLEARING HOUSE (ACH) - A group of processing institutions linked by a computer network to exchange (clear and settle) electronic payment transactions. They electronically process payment of funds and government securities among financial institutions and businesses.
BANKCARD - A financial transaction card issued by a bank or other financial institution; examples are Visa and MasterCard credit or debit cards.
BANK CARD ASSOCIATION - A group of banks formed either for the purpose of sponsoring a program, (Visa or MasterCard) or to use common processing and administrative facilities.
BANK IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (BIN) - The digit identification number assigned to both cardholder and merchant banks.
BASIS POINT - Basis points are the increments by which discount rates are calculated. 1 basis point is equivalent to .01% or .0001.
BATCH - A collection of credit card transactions saved for submission at one time.
BATCH ID - Once a batch is settled, it receives a batch ID. Each transaction in the batch shares this ID.
BIN - See Bank Identification Number
CAPTURE - Converting the authorization amount into a billable transaction record within a Batch. Transactions cannot be captured unless previously authorized, and authorizations cannot be captured until the goods or services have been shipped or transmitted to the consumer.
CARDHOLDER - Any person who holds a payment card account (bankcard or otherwise). Person that uses a credit card to purchase goods and services.
Card Present - A transaction where the customer's card is physically present and evidenced by the action of swiping a card through a terminal or by an imprinted and signed credit card draft.
CLEARING - The process of exchanging financial transaction details between an acquirer and an issuer to facilitate posting of a cardholder's account and reconciliation of a customer's settlement position.
CARD ASSOCIATIONS - These are organizations such as VISA and MasterCard that, along with the government, make the rules in regard to acceptance of credit cards. These rules include fees that are charged for interchange. American Express and Discover are different cases. They are both the issuer and acceptors, and Merchants must have a separate agreement with them. This may change as current litigation is resolved.
CARD ISSUER - Any association member financial institution, bank, credit union, or company that issues, or causes to be issued, plastic cards to cardholders.
CARD NOT PRESENT - A transaction where the card is not present at the time of the transaction such as a mail order, telephone order, or Internet order. Credit card data is manually entered into the terminal, as opposed to swiping a credit card's magnetic stripe through the terminal.
CARD READER - Any device that is capable of reading encoding on plastic cards. See Magnetic Stripe Reader
CARD VERIFICATION CODE (CVC) - A unique check value encoded on the magnetic stripe of a card to validate card information during the authorization process. The card verification value is calculated from the data encoded on the magnetic stripe using a secure cryptographic process. This method is used by MasterCard.
CARD VERIFICATION VALUE (CVV) - A unique check value encoded on the magnetic stripe of a card to validate card information during the authorization process. The card verification value is calculated from the data encoded on the magnetic stripe using a secure cryptographic process. This method is used by Visa.
CASH ADVANCE - A cash loan obtained by a cardholder through presentation of his/her credit card at a bank office or automated teller machine.
CASH DISBURSEMENT - A transaction that is posted to a cardholder's monetary accounts when they receive cash from a teller, an ATM, or by mail.
CASH RESERVE ACCOUNT DAYS - The number of days as indicated in the Merchant Bankcard Services Agreement that funds will be set aside in the Merchant Reserve Account.
CASH RESERVE AMOUNT PERCENTAGE - The percentage of settled transactions set aside in the Merchant Reserve Account.
CHARGEBACK - The return of a transaction from the cardholder's bank generated from a cardholder's dispute or resulting from the authorization process.
CHARGEBACK PERIOD - The number of calendar days from the endorsement date of a transaction receipt (or processing date, as applicable), during which time the issuer may exercise a chargeback right.
CHARGEBACK RATIO - The amount of sale transactions divided by the amount of chargebacks received in any given month. This is calculated using either the item count of both or the dollar amount of both.
CHECK DIGIT VERIFICATION - An algorithm that is performed on the primary account number (PAN) to ensure that numbers were not transposed or miskeyed. The result is the last position of the account number, or check digit. It is performed to validate a credit card number. Many card issuers use the MOD-10 Check Digit routine.
CHECK VERIFICATION - A system providing merchants with varying degrees of insurance against bad check losses by verifying the authenticity of the check and/or its presenter by using a check processing organization.
CLOSE BATCH - The process of sending the batch for settlement.
CODE 10 - A call which allows the merchant to inform the authorization center of a possible fraudulent transaction without alerting the cardholder (or other person presenting the credit card).
COMMERCIAL CARDS - This is the formal name for the following three types of plastic cards: Corporate Card, Purchase Card, and Business Card.
A Corporate card is usually issued to the employees of a corporation, where the corporation assumes all liability for the card's usage. This is usually issued to larger corporations.
The Purchase card is issued to corporations. It allows the corporation numerous parameters to control daily and monthly spending limits, total credit limits, and where the card may be used. Many employees may be issued the same card number.
The Business card is similar to the Corporate card, but issued to a business with a few employees and where each employee is responsible for their purchases.
COMPLIANCE - A process where Visa or MasterCard resolves disputes between members arising from violations of the International Operating Regulations.
CREDIT/RETURN - Return of goods or services initiated by the cardholder. Merchant refunds ("credits") the cardholder's DDA account via the terminal.
CREDIT LIMIT - This is a dollar amount assigned to a cardholder as the limit of credit that they are approved to borrow. Credit card purchases are actually loans to the cardholder by the issuer.
DATA CAPTURE - Also known as electronic draft capture (EDC) or draft capture. A data processing term for collecting, formatting, and storing data in computer memory according to predefined fields, for example, customer name, account number, and dollar amount of purchase.
DBA - Doing Business As - the trading name of a merchant which appears on business signs, customer literature, etc.
DEBIT - A charge to a customer's bankcard account. A transaction, such as a check, automated teller machine (ATM) withdrawal, or point-of-sale (POS) debit purchase that debits a demand deposit account.
DEBIT CARD - A financial instrument used by consumers in place of cash. Unlike a credit card, debit card purchases are automatically deducted from the cardholder's account.
DEDICATED LINE - A communications circuit between two endpoints that is permanently connected and always available. Also called a leased line or private line.
DEMAND DEPOSIT ACCOUNT (DDA) - A checking account, which must be linked to a merchant processing account to deposit funds to and debit funds from as needed.
DEPOSIT - Process of transmitting a batch of transactions from the merchant to the acquiring institution in preparation for settlement.
DIGITAL CERTIFICATE - An authentication that confirms a website is registered to the correct individual(s) through a thorough validation process.
DISCOUNT RATE - T he percentage of sales amounts that the bankcard acquirer or T&E card issuer charges the merchant for the settlement of the transactions.
ELECTRONIC BENEFITS TRANSFER - Through EBT, USDA Food Stamps and certain government benefits will be converted from paper checks and coupons to secure debit cards.
ELECTRONIC COMMERCE - Sale of goods or services over the Internet.
ELECTRONIC COMMERCE TRANSACTION - A transaction conducted over the Internet or other network where a cardholder enters card data and transmits the data. This includes email, electronic order forms, and interactive websites.
ELECTRONIC CREDIT APPLICATION - A credit application that is transmitted electronically to a credit evaluation company (such as Equifax) for approval recommendations.
ELECTRONIC DRAFT CAPTURE (EDC) - A method of processing bankcard transactions electronically via a Point of Sale (POS) terminal or other compatible equipment. The transaction information (cardholder account number, transaction amount, transaction date, authorization number) is captured electronically and housed in the POS terminal until the terminal is settled.
ELECTRONIC FUNDS TRANSFER (EFT) - Process of electronically transferring funds to or from an account. This evolved to eliminate the costly and time consuming paper method.
ENCRYPTION - The technique of modifying a known bit stream on a transmission line so that it appears to be a random sequence of bits to an unauthorized observer. It often is done automatically in the terminal or computer before data is transmitted.
EXPIRED CARD - A card on which the embossed, encoded, or printed expiration date has passed.
FOOTER - Text printed at the bottom of a sales draft. A merchant can customize the footer, with phrases such as, Have a Nice Day, No Refunds, Thank You for Shopping With Us, etc.
FRAUDULENT USER - An individual who is not the cardholder or designee and who uses a card (or, in a mail/phone order or recurring transaction, an account number) to obtain goods or services without the cardholder's consent.
FRAUDULENT TRANSACTION - A transaction unauthorized by the cardholder of a bankcard. Such transactions are categorized as lost, stolen, not received, issued on a fraudulent application, counterfeit, fraudulent processing of transactions, account takeover, or other fraudulent conditions as defined by the card company or the member company.
FULFILLMENT - The satisfaction of a retrieval request. The acquirer supplies the issuer with the original slip, a legible reproduction thereof, or a substitute draft if applicable. The fulfillment record confirms the completion of that action and effects reimbursement to the acquirer. See Retrieval Request.
HOLOGRAM - A laser-created photograph that produces a three dimensional image used to make counterfeiting plastic cards more difficult.
HOST CAPTURE - Method where transaction data is stored in batches on the host computer at the third-party transaction processor.
IMPRINTER - A device used to imprint the embossed lines of a plastic card on a paper transaction sales draft.
INDEPENDENT SALES ORGANIZATION (ISO) - A non-member company contracted by members of VISA or MasterCard to provide merchant or cardholder servicing.
INQUIRY FEE - A fee imposed for all card types (Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Diners Club, JCB, etc.) each time an authorization is requested and / or a batch is closed.
INTERCHANGE - The exchange of information, transaction data and money among banks. Interchange systems are managed by Visa and MasterCard associations and are very standardized so banks and merchants worldwide can use them.
INTERCHANGE FEE - The amount paid by the merchant bank (acquirer) to the cardholder institution (issuer) on each sales transaction. Interchange rates vary according to the type of merchant (retail, travel and entertainment, mail order) and the method of processing (paper, EDC).
INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER (ISP) - Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are the Web Site Hosting companies that provide a home for merchant's web sites. They typically resell and/or support the services of a Secure Gateway Provider and/or ISO or Agent or Bank.
ISSUING BANK - The financial institution that issues a card to a consumer.
JCB CARD - Card issued by JCB (Japan Credit Bureau) International Credit Card Company, Ltd.
MAGNETIC STRIPE - A stripe of magnetic information affixed to the back of a plastic credit or debit card. It contains customer and account information required to complete electronic financial transactions.
MAGNETIC-STRIPE READER - A device that reads information from the magnetic stripe and transmits that information to a transaction processor or computer terminal. Also referred to as card reader.
MAGNETIC SWIPES - There are two types of terminal readers for magnetic swipe transactions: Track 1 or Track 2 readers. Terminals with a Track 1 reader will scan the magnetic bar code and obtain the cardholder's name and address. Track 2 terminal readers scan the magnetic bar code for the cardholder's account number and card expiration date.
MAIL/PHONE ORDER MERCHANT (MOTO) - A merchant that transacts business by mail or phone.
MANUAL CLOSE - A batch close that must be initiated by the merchant on a daily basis, as opposed to an auto close at a pre-set time.
MASTERCARD - MasterCard International Inc., and all of its subsidiaries and affiliates.
MASTERCARD ACQUIRER - A member that signs a MasterCard merchant or disburses currency to a MasterCard cardholder in a cash disbursement, and directly or indirectly enters the resulting transaction receipt into interchange.
MASTERCARD ISSUER - A member that issues MasterCard cards.
MEMBER - An entity that is a member of Visa or MasterCard and refers to acquirer, associate, ATM acquirer, charter member, disbursing member, electron acquirer, electron issuer, group member, issuer, merchant bank, participant, principal, Visa or MasterCard acquirer, and Visa or MasterCard issuer.
MERCHANT - Any business that accepts as payment VISA and/or MasterCard bankcards.
MERCHANT AGREEMENT - A written agreement between a merchant and a bank containing their respective rights, duties, and warranties with respect to acceptance of the bankcard and matters related to the bankcard activity.
MERCHANT CATEGORY CODE - Four-digit classification code assigned to the merchant to identify the merchant's principal profession and type of processing, authorization, and settlement.
MERCHANT NUMBER - A series or group of digits that uniquely identifies the merchant for account and billing purposes.
MERCHANT SERVICES PROVIDER (MSP) - An organization that quotes a discount rate to the merchant and handles the setup with the processors. An MSP can be a merchant bank or an independent sales organization for a merchant bank, called an ISO.
MERCHANT STATEMENT - A summary of merchant transactions which is produced and sent to a merchant on a monthly basis.
MERIT I, II, III - MasterCard's latest series of regulations that are similar to CPS requirements by Visa. Requires 100% issuer-controlled authorizations and minimal transaction clearance periods.
MID-QUALIFIED TRANSACTION FEES - Bankcard sales transactions that do not meet set Visa/MasterCard criteria for that particular merchant and are processed at a higher interchange rate. The use of a rewards card will incur the mid-qualified interchange fees.
MONTHLY BANKCARD VOLUME - The total dollar amount of Mastercard and Visa transactions approved to be processed through a merchant account in any given month.
MONTHLY MINIMUM FEE - A minimum amount the merchant must pay the Merchant Service Provider every month. It does not apply if the combination of Transaction Fees and Discount Fees exceeds the minimum amount.
NON-QUALIFIED TRANSACTION FEES - Bankcard sales transactions that do not meet set Visa/MasterCard criteria for that particular merchant and are processed at a higher interchange rate. An example of this is a retail merchant "card present" that processes a "card-not-present" transaction (or manually enters the card data rather than swiping the magnetic stripe through the terminal, and does not include the AVS information.) The merchant will pay the difference between what they should have paid for if it was a "card present" "swiped" transaction and what they actually qualified for as a "card not present" transaction. This difference is called non-qualified interchange fees. The use of corporate cards and foreign cards also incur non-qualified interchange fees.
OFFLINE - This refers to requesting an authorization non-electronically.
OFFLINE DEBIT - This refers to a debit transaction that gets treated the same as a credit card transaction. It will not debit the cardholder's account immediately, but will be processed through a normal credit card venue settlement.
ONLINE - A method of requesting an authorization through a communications network other than voice, to an issuer, an authorizing processor, or stand-in processor.
ONLINE DEBIT - This refers to a debit transaction that is authorized with the use of a PIN and a PIN pad. No signature is needed for this type of transaction. Online debit transactions are charged a flat fee instead of a combined discount rate and transaction fee.
OVERLIMIT - This refers to a cardholder's account that has surpassed its credit limit with a transaction. (Their outstanding balance is beyond their credit limit.)
PAYMENT GATEWAY also see Secure Payment Gateway - The transaction processing vehicle that receives encrypted transactions from the merchant server, authenticates the merchant, decrypts the payment information, and transmits the data to the authorization and settlement networks.
PIN (Personal Identification Number)
A PIN is a personal identification number used by a cardholder to authenticate card ownership for ATM or debit card transactions. The cardholder enters their PIN into a PIN pad. The PIN is required to complete an ATM/Debit card transaction.
PIN PAD - A numeric key pad, which is connected to a terminal or POS, used by the cardholder to enter the PIN and/or other information.
POINT OF SALE (POS) - Location in a merchant establishment at which sale is consummated by payment for goods or services received. Can also refer to the direct debit of a purchase amount to a customer's checking account.
POS SYSTEM - Point-of-sale system that processes sale and other transactions, such as an electronic cash register with specialized software.
PRIOR AUTHORIZATION - An authorization usually done before a transaction takes place. The approved authorization request may be held for an extended length of time before a card is present or not.
PROCESSING DATE - The date on which the transaction is processed by the acquiring bank.
PROCESSOR - A company (often a third party) that handles credit card transactions for Merchant Banks.
PURCHASING CARD - A bankcard designed for smaller business purchases made by corporations.
RECEIPT - A hard copy document recording a transaction that took place at the point of sale, with a description that usually includes: date, merchant name/location, primary account number, amount, and reference number.
RECURRING TRANSACTIONS - A transaction where a cardholder has given a merchant permission to periodically charge the cardholder's account.
REFERRAL - A message displayed on the POS terminal when the electronic attempt for authorization is denied and must be authorized by calling the Voice Authorization Center .
REPRESENTMENT - The second stage in the chargeback process. This step includes the acquirer's response to an issuer chargeback by returning the disputed transaction to the issuer.
RESERVE ACCOUNT - Merchant funds maintained at FBBH to be utilized for any potential losses generated from a merchant account , such as unpaid chargebacks or other unpaid fees.
RETRIEVAL REQUEST - A request from the cardholder's bank to supply a copy of the sales draft usually for research of a dispute. .
REVERSAL - An online financial transaction used to negate or cancel a transaction that has been sent through interchange in error.
SALES DRAFT - The paper form used by the merchant and signed by the cardholder to document the transaction.
SETTLEMENT - The process by which acquirers and issuers exchange financial information and value relative to credit card sales. As the sales transaction value moves from the merchant to the acquiring bank, and then to the issuer, each party buys and sells the sales ticket. Settlement is what occurs when the acquiring bank and the issuer exchange data or funds during that function.
Settlement also means the process by which a merchant closes/balances out their terminal in order to transmit their credit card transactions.
SHOPPING CART - A piece of software installed on an online vendor's web space used to produce a shopping system. This generally means product pages, some sort of an online "basket" and a way for the customer to add, remove and modify product selections and to check out when they are done shopping.
SMART CARD - A credit or debit card containing a computer chip with memory and interactive capabilities used for identification and to store additional data about the cardholder, cardholder account, or both.
SSL - SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer. It's a protocol for transferring data between a web site user and a web site. When a web site uses SSL, data sent to and from the web space is encrypted to prevent it from being read in transit over the Internet.
SECURE SERVER - A Secure Server uses an SSL certificate. It is generally a piece of web space that can only be dealt with by using SSL ensuring that data transferred between the web space and the browser is encrypted.
SECURE ELECTRONIC TRANSACTION (SET) - A future industry standard that will authenticate customers and merchants to ensure the safety and confidentiality of data processed over the Internet.
SECURE PAYMENT GATEWAY - Secure Payment Gateway companies help other Processors conduct secure business on the internet using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology. They provide a system that passes credit card data, authorization requests, and authorization responses over the Internet using encryption technology. The transaction information is sent by the Payment Gateway secure server via leased line to the credit card network where the validity of the card is checked and the availability of funds on that account is verified. An authorization code is returned via leased line to the Payment Gateway; the authorization is encrypted by the Payment Gateway and transmitted in encrypted form to the web server of the merchant, which triggers fulfillment of the order.
SETUP FEE - An initial fee charged by some Merchant Service Providers/Independent Sales Organizations for the establishment of an account and for processing and reporting tools.
STATEMENT FEE - This is a fee charged to the merchant by the bank or Merchant Service Providers/Independent Sales Organizations for preparing and sending out monthly statements and reports.
TERMINAL - A hardware device equipped with a magnetic strip reading device, that is placed at the merchant location to electronically process credit cad transactions, typically used in a retail (face-face) environment. Attached to a telephone line at the merchant location, the terminal is capable of authorizing, capturing and settling credit card and ATM/Debit card transactions.
TERMINAL ID (TID) - The TID is the number assigned to a credit card transaction device, that identifies the merchant's equipment to the processor and bankcard data transport networks. A TID is also used for payment gateways and other software applications.
TERMINAL CAPTURE - Method where transaction data is stored in the POS terminal until the batch is settled.
THIRD PARTY PROCESSOR - An organization that is not an association member contracted by issuers and acquirers to provide authorizations, processing, merchant services, and cardholder services.
TRACK 1 - Bank discretionary data encoded on a magnetic stripe. Includes credit card account number, card holder name, and expiration date.
TRACK 2 - Bank discretionary data encoded on a magnetic stripe. Track 2 includes credit card account number and expiration date.
TRANSACTION - Action between a cardholder and a merchant or a cardholder and a member that results in activity on the cardholder account, for example, a purchase, cash advance, debit or credit adjustment.
TRANSACTION FEE - A small charge paid to the processing network (e.g., Visa/MasterCard) for use of their system, for each transaction processed.
TRANSACTION DATE - The date on which a transaction between a cardholder and a merchant, an acquirer, or a carrier, occurs.
VISA - Visa International Service Association and all of its subsidiaries and affiliates.
VISANET - The systems and services, including the V.I.P. system and BASE II, through which Visa delivers online financial processing, authorization, clearing, and settlement services to members.
VOID - The reversal of an approved transaction, a transaction that has been authorized but not settled. Settled transactions require processing of a credit card in order to be reversed. A void does not remove any hold on the customer's open to buy.
VOICE AUTHORIZATION - An approval response obtained through interactive communication between an issuer and an acquirer, their authorizing processors, or stand-in processing, through telephone, facsimile, or telex communications.