Glossary of Payment Processing Terms



An acquirer is a licensed member which maintains merchant relationships, receives all payment card transactions from the merchant, and initiates that data into an interchange system.

Acquiring Bank

A bank that settles electronic transactions for a merchant.

Address Verification System (AVS)

Address Verification Service (AVS) provides U.S. merchants processing mail order, telephone order, e-commerce or key-entered transactions a method of verifying a cardholders billing zip code. Submitted as part of the authorization, or as a separate request, AVS puts the power of security in your hands by verifying the cardholder's zip code and letting you decide whether or not to continue a transaction.

AVS helps you reduce chargebacks; fraud related losses and associated processing fees. It also helps you prevent your customers from fraud and improves service quality. It must be noted that all Internet transactions require AVS.


A company or individual who markets somebody else’s product online (usually via websites and web advertising) in exchange for some of the revenue generated when that affiliate’s advertising results in a sale of a product.


Any contractor, including processors and any subcontractors, whether a member or nonmember, engaged by a member to provide services or act on its behalf in connection with the Visa or MasterCard payment services.


Anything being sold by a sponsor. This could be a subscription, a video download, access tokens, or other assets that can be sold according to the terms and conditions.


An Issuing Bank's approval of a credit card transaction in a specific amount. If a merchant complies with the bankcard association rules in obtaining an authorization by telephone or electronic terminal, payment to the merchant is guaranteed.

Automated Clearing House (ACH)

Automated Clearing House (ACH) is an electronic network for financial transactions in the United States. ACH processes large volumes of credit and debit transactions in batches. ACH credit transfers include direct deposit, payroll and vendor payments.

Automated Clearing House (ACH) Payment

ACH payments are electronic payments that are created when the customer gives an originating institution, corporation, or other customer (originator) authorization to debit directly from the customer's checking or saving account for the purpose of bill payment.


Bank Identification Number (BIN)

A series of numbers used to identify the settling bank for both Acquiring and Issuing transactions.


A group of authorized transactions that have been gathered over a period of time. The batch is submitted to processing networks for clearing and settlement, typically at the close of each business day.

Business Identification

An 8-digit number that begins with “100” that Visa uses to identify its members and any third-party processor authorized to connect to its authorization and settlement systems.


Credit Card Associations

Organizations, such as Visa and MasterCard, that oversee the use of credit cards and establish rules and guidelines in conjunction with the government.

Card Not Present (CNP) Transaction

A purchase made by a customer without presenting the physical credit or debit card at the time of purchase. CNP transactions are typically performed online.

Card Verification Value (CVV2)

The Card Verification Value (CVV/CVV2) is used to verify that that the credit card is in possession of the cardholder. This is generally shown as a 3 digit code on the back of a credit card with the exception of Amex cards on which it is shown as a 4 digit code on the front. Using CVV and AVS verification systems on Card Not Present or Internet orders will help to combat fraudulent transactions.


When a consumer disputes a transaction with their credit card company and the credit card company decides in the consumer's favor, a chargeback is issued to return the funds from the sponsor and affiliate accounts back to the consumer. These are negative transactions.

Typically, transactions are disputed when:

  1. The item or service is significantly different than as described.
  2. The service or item was never received.
  3. A purchase was made without the cardholders consent.


A process where a dispute is resolved between Members arising from the violation of VISA or MasterCard's Operating Regulation when the requesting Member can certify that a financial loss has occurred, or will occur for a specific amount, and no chargeback right is available.



A payment card decline means that, for whatever reason, your creditor has declined to process your purchase. Most often this is due to being over the credit limit or not having enough funds for the transaction to complete. In some cases, it might also be due to security.



The process of transforming processing information to make it unusable to anyone except those processing the Authorization Request. This technique of scrambling data automatically is done for anti-fraud purposes.


Financial Institution

Any business that deals with moving, investing or lending money, dealing in financial instruments or providing financial services. Includes commercial banks, internet payment processors, federal and state savings banks, saving and loan associations, etc.

Floor Limit

The amount of money above which a single transaction must be authorized (limit may vary). Floor Limits became less important as payment card transactions started being processed electronically in which all transactions undergo authorization.



A secure portal that connects to a merchant's point of sale (e.g. online shop). The gateway transmits customer payment information to the payment processor for authorization and settlement. Payment Gateways receive all customer data, encrypt it, send it to the bank for processing, receive the bank's authorization and communicate the authorization information back to the consumer.

Gift Card

A prepaid stored-value payment card typically issued by a retailer or bank to be used as an alternative to cash for purchases within a specific store or business.


Hard Decline

A declined authorization attempt that is unlikely to be successful of retried. Typically, hard declines occur with lost or stolen payment cards and constant payment failures.


ICA (Interbank Card Association) Number

A four-digit number assigned by MasterCard to a financial institution, third party processor, or any other registered member to identify the organization in a transaction.


Banking systems operated by Visa and MasterCard for authorization and settlement, as well as other monetary and non-monetary information related to payment processing activities.


A Member that enters into a contractual relationship with a Cardholder for the issuance of one or more cards.



A retailer, company, or any other entity (pursuant to a merchant agreement) that agrees to accept credit cards, debit cards, or ACH, when selling goods or services to a customer.

Merchant Account

A merchant account is a type of a bank account that allows businesses to accept payments by credit cards.

Merchant Bank (Same as 'Acquiring Bank')

A bank that settles electronic transactions for a merchant.

Merchant Category Code (MCC)

MCC is a four-digit code assigned by an acquirer to a merchant to identify the merchant's principal trade, profession, or line of business.

Merchant Identification Number

The Merchant Identification Number is assigned to a merchant as a means of identification for accounting and billing purposes.



A financial institution initiating a wire transfer or ACH payment.


Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of 12 security standards designed to ensure that companies that accept, process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment.

A payment service provider must be PCI DSS compliant.

Payment Processor

A member or approved non-member acting as the agent of a member that provides authorization, clearing, or settlement services for merchants and members.

Payment Gateway (Same as 'Gateway')

A secure portal that connects to a merchant's point of sale (e.g. online shop). The gateway transmits customer payment information to the payment processor for authorization and settlement. Payment Gateways receive all customer data, encrypt it, send it to the bank for processing, receive the bank's authorization and communicate the authorization information back to the consumer.

Processing Fees

Fees charged by financial institutions for processing payment card transactions.



The subsequent charges for subscriptions billed to consumers after the "new sale".

Recurring Transaction

Recurring transactions charge a cardholder multiple times on a periodic basis for recurring goods or services.


A positive or negative reconcile is either adding or subtracting funds from your account as a result of reconciliation, which is a procedure to verify that two sets of records issued by two different entities match.


A claim made by a payee for the reimbursement of funds effected from its account (with or without a specific reason being indicated).


These are funds sent back by the payee to the payer following settlement of the original payment



The completion of a transaction or of processing with the aim of discharging participants’ obligations through the transfer of funds.

Soft Decline

A soft decline occurs when the card number is probably valid, but the transaction was denied by the issuing bank. On soft declines, the system will try to process the transaction several times before estimating it unsuccessful altogether.

Read also Soft Decline vs. Hard Decline.

Software Development Kit (SDK)

SDK is a set of software development tools that allows the creation of applications for a certain software package.


Terminal Identification Number

A series or group of numbers that numerically identifies a specific piece of credit card processing equipment, such as a credit card terminal or credit card printer, to the credit card processor.


An action between a cardholder and a merchant that results in activity on the account, such as a purchase.