The payments industry is a fast-paced market that is constantly changing due to the introduction of new payment systems and new technologies.
We're seeing payment technology companies play a bigger role in the payments industry, particularly as technology advances—and many of them are even integrating with traditional financial institutions to appeal to the new consumer and merchant preferences. Unlike in the past, when payment processing was simply about facilitating the flow of money, the latest payment processing players are completely redefining the customer experience and enabling business owners to operate their businesses with remarkable ease.
On the surface, the payment processing industry appears to be easy, but there are many parties involved in what appears to be a simple procedure. When a customer swipes their credit or debit card at a payment terminal, the transaction usually takes just a few seconds—but the procedure itself requires several steps and several players that communicate with one another. So, first and foremost, we must understand how it functions.
Let us begin with the individuals involved.
- The cardholder is the person who possesses the credit card used to make a purchase.
- The business that offers products or services to cardholders is known as the retailer.
- The acquirer is the merchant bank that manages credit card transactions on the merchant's behalf, accompanied by the credit card brand or networks, such as Visa and MasterCard.
- Finally, the financial institution that issued the credit/debit card is known as the issuing bank.
Now, using this example, let's see how these participants conduct a credit/debit card transaction.
Fatima, a cardholder, buys an apple from Mohammed, a brick-and-mortar dealer, for 1.00 QR. Fatima inserts her credit card into a chip reader and dials out to obtain an authorization code at the POS (point-of-sale) terminal. What happens next is as follows.
The Authorization Process
- The information collected on the POS terminal is first sent to the acquirer by the payment processor.
- The acquirer sends the information to the issuing bank through the credit card network, says Visa, and requests payment authorization for a one QR transaction from the issuing bank.
- The issuing bank checks to see if Fatima has enough money if the expiry date is correct, and several other items, such as matching Mohammed's business address and the cardholder's billing address.
- When the issuing bank confirms that all is right, it issues an approved authorization code and returns it in the same manner that it received an authorization request from Visa and the acquirer.
- On his POS terminal, Mohammed sees the accepted message.
- The issuing bank places a one QR hold on Fatima's credit card account in order for Mohammed to collect the proceeds from the transaction.
The Settlement Process
- At the end of the day, all these authorizations are stored in a batch in the POS terminal.
- When Mohammed close the batch, the payment processor sent it back to the respective issuing bank for final clearance, using the same channels as before.
- They are sent to the acquirer first, and then to the issuers via credit card networks.
- Following the acquirer's funding of the merchant's bank account, each issuing bank eliminates the hold and withdraws actual funds from the cardholder's account.
Now you understand the whole payment cycle. So it's time to dive in and grasp the most puzzling words that merchants encounter while searching for online payment services: a merchant account, a payment processor, or a payment gateway.
What is a Merchant Account?
In layman's terms, a merchant account is similar to a holding account where all payments are routed before being deposited into a traditional bank account. This account is dedicated to accepting payments from online merchants. So all the online payments received for your sales are stored in this account. A merchant account is the same whether you sell physical things, subscriptions, or digital products.
After successfully applying for a merchant account, each merchant is granted a unique Merchant ID. A merchant ID is a one-of-a-kind code provided to merchants by a payment processor. This code, which is frequently abbreviated as MID, is provided to parties involved in transaction reconciliation along with cardholder information. When communicating with their processor and other parties, a merchant can use the MID to help them identify themselves.
Your merchant account might be classified as either high risk or low risk based on criteria defined by merchant service providers.
The following are the most common criteria, considered to classify high-risk and low-risk merchant account:
- Average monthly sales volume
- Average credit card transaction
- Different currency accepted
- Offer recurring or subscription package
- History of excessive chargeback
- Main product offering
- Sell to a high-risk country
These criteria differ considerably depending on the payment processor's guidelines.
Many times, small business owners have never heard the phrase "high-risk merchant account" unless their company is recognized as such. At first, it appears to be a bit mysterious. In some situations, it may appear to be an unjust judgment against your company, the service you give, the items you offer, or you personally. However, this should not be cause for concern. You would be able to obtain better payment options if you have a thorough understanding of this term.
At first falling into the high-risk merchant account category seem like a disaster, but it isn't. It really has a lot of advantages.
- Economic expansion is a possibility: In contrast to conventional merchant accounts, which are limited to transactions only within the parent country, high-risk merchant accounts have no restrictions and can transact money in any currency, giving them a real possibility of globalizing their market.
- There are no volume controls: High-risk merchants do not have to worry about a monthly volume target, which means they can transact as much as they want.
- Account termination is less likely: If a typical merchant receives a large number of chargebacks (more than 1%), their account will be terminated; this is not the case for high-risk merchant accounts because the providers are aware that it is possible, so they are secure, and their account will not be terminated due to high chargebacks.
Understanding these phrases and determining which group your firm belongs to is preferable.
What is a Payment Processor?
A payment processor is a financial organization that provides payment processing services to online retailers. For merchant acquiring banks, they manage transactions from different sources such as credit cards and debit cards. It may form alliances with other businesses that interact with merchants or consumers. They are usually divided into two types: front-end and back-end.
- Front-end processors have links to different card organizations and provide merchant banks with authorization and settlement services.
- Back-end processors approve settlements from front-end processors and, for example, transfer funds from the issuing bank to the merchant bank through the Central Bank.
To offer their services directly to an online merchant, a payment processor gets into a reseller relationship with a payment gateway or a merchant account provider.
Payment processor example: PayPal is the first online payment processing company, founded in 1998.
What is a Payment Gateway?
A payment gateway allows you to be paid online when your clients make an online purchase. You can accept card payments directly from your website with the authorization granted by a payment gateway. As a result, it serves as a link between the transactions on your website and the payment processor. Transaction data cannot be disclosed due to security issues.
Before submitting the authorization request to the processor, several payment gateways offer tools for automatically screening orders for fraud and calculating tax in real-time. The tools for detecting fraud include geolocation, velocity pattern analysis, 'blacklist' lookups, delivery address authentication, identity morphing detection, and basic AVS tests.
There are many other factors to be considered when selecting a payment gateway. Check out here for more detailed information about payment gateway https://sadad.qa/en/best-payment-gateway-qatar/
Payment gateway vs Payment processor vs Merchant account
The most crucial parts of online commerce are payment processors, payment gateways, and merchant accounts. Any company that accepts online payments must understand the key differences and similarities between these three.
Certain compliance and formalities must be followed if a retailer wishes to open some sort of account.
In order to obtain a merchant account, you must have extensive paperwork showing that what you offer is legal and does not violate any foreign laws or internal bank regulations.
Following the initial compliance audit, an additional bank compliance verification, such as:
- Do your company and website meet the compliance criteria of major card providers such as Visa, MasterCard, or American Express?
- Your chargeback History – have you kept a fair number of chargebacks?
This phase could take up to a week or month in total.
As you can see, obtaining a separate merchant account is a difficult task, but it is well worth the effort.
There is even less documentation to fill out in order to receive processor approval, and you will have access to your account in a matter of hours. As a result, this is one of the fastest strategies in terms of approval time. But it comes at a price.
For payment gateway, you need not wait for your account to be accepted, you will have immediate access to it.
For merchant account setup, you will be given either a snippet of code to implement on your website or full API and testing sandbox access. Custom integration with your website or app will be needed. You may need to perform custom integration with your website or app. Payment processors have regular solutions. There is no space for customization. Payment gateway implementation varies depending on the service provider and the technologies used to create the API or website.
Account stability refers to the assurance that your account will not be shut down or placed on hold unexpectedly.
For an individual merchant account, you have complete control over the stability and efficiency of your account. In the event of a problem, your account manager will contact you. In the case of a payment processor, Merchants are not reviewed for Visa/MasterCard compliance and, instead of assisting them in complying with the regulations, the chances of account termination are increased without much clarification. While using a payment gateway, account stability varies depending on whether you're connecting with a payment processor or a merchant account.
Expect a flat-rate pricing model when working with a payment processor. In contrast, depending on the merchant's business model and transaction volume, pricing in a merchant account is typically versatile and completely negotiable. If you use a third-party payment gateway solution, you can incur costs for integration and usage.
You can build your own anti-fraud rules and exceptions with a merchant account and a payment gateway to allow legitimate customers in. In a payment processor, this type of freedom is not available. As a result, the rate of payment acceptance is poor.
Terms & conditions
Terms and conditions for merchant accounts can be negotiated depending on the business model and processing volume. However, this is not the case for payment processors.
There are several crucial circumstances that could have an effect on your online payment infrastructure. When selecting either of these, you should keep support in mind as a critical factor. You will be assigned a dedicated merchant account manager when you open a dedicated merchant account. In the case of a payment processor, you must meet standard protocol to get the problem resolved. Support for payment gateways varies depending on whether you're integrating with a payment processor or a merchant account.
You don't have to be concerned with payment gateways, payment processors, or merchant accounts. Since, Sadad will provide you with anything you need to sell effectively anywhere in the world, including a payment gateway, merchant account, and plenty of other advanced processing features. The All-in-One Payment Platform from Sadad is easy to use and adaptable. When you have concerns or want to expand your sales territory, you can count on us for customized advice and help.
If you have any payment problems, please let us know https://sadad.qa/en/ so that we can assist you.