Accepting credit cards in business for the first time may appear a very complicated process. However, it is not as difficult as most people believe. This article offers a complete guide towards the whole credit card processing transaction. First, it is important to know that there are five different parties involved in the exchange of information, making the entire process appear simple.
A Guide to credit card processing for business
The five parties involved
The Cardholder – The person who holds the credit card account, also known as your customer.
The Merchant – The business (you) who accepts the cardholder’s credit card as payment.
The Issuer – The financial institution or organization issuing the credit to the cardholder.
The Acquirer – The financial institution or organization providing the merchant processing services.
The Card Association – The network (VISA, MasterCard, Discover, etc.) providing funding and authorization between the acquirer and issuer.
The process involved
When processing credit cards, card associations manage the flow of information and money between the five parties. Known as interchanging, it includes several steps that turn a simple sales transaction into cash in your bank account.
Authorization – The first step is authorization. When the cardholder presents a credit card to a merchant for payment, the acquirer checks with the appropriate issuer to verify the transaction amount and card number before processing the initial transaction. Those who have ever used your credit card to make an in-person purchase, you know this happens almost instantly.
Batching – After being authorized and validated, the transaction is stored in a ‘batch’ or group of transactions, until it is time to send the entire batch to the acquirer for the payment. This is usually done at the end of the business day, but it can vary.
Clearing and Settling- The acquirer sends the batches to the issuer for payment, done through the card associations representing the batched transactions. They use the pci saq types for security reasons during the process. The issuer credits the acquirer before debiting the cardholder’s credit account.
Funding – After receiving payment from the issuer, the acquirer sends payment to the merchant minus the fees charged by the acquirer for the processing service.
The entire process takes approximately three business days from the initial sales transaction to the merchant receiving payment. It can seem complicated because of the number of parties and processes involved in completing a credit card transaction. However, if you want to grow your business, you should consider accepting credit cards more often. It’s as simple as selecting a merchant processing services company and opening a credit card processing account.