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Merchant Accounts

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A Glossary of Merchant Services

Merchant services jargon

An A to Z glossary of merchant services terminology, all the jargon you’ll encounter in the world of card payment processing and merchant services comparisons. Terminology, acronyms, word and phrases used by merchant services providers, acquiring banks, financial institutions and the ubiquitous merchant comparison sites.


Acquiring Bank

An acquirer or acquiring bank is a financial institution that performs card payment processing as a merchant service.


Authorisation with regard to card payment processing provides verification that the customer holds enough funds at the issuing bank to make the payment.


An AVS or Address Verification System is a fraud-prevention system used in phone, mail order and online payment processing for “Card Not Present” payments. Primarily performing data matching to identify the customer as the cardholder at the issuing bank.



Bluetooth is standard for a type of wireless connection between devices; when used in card machines, Bluetooth allows the card machine to take payments within range of a terminal.


Broadband is a high-speed internet connection used to transmit data to and from your merchant services provider from EPOS and other point-of-sale devices or terminals.


Card Machine

A card machine with regard to merchant services refers to any of a range of desktop, portable or mobile card readers used to process face to face payments where the cardholder is present.

Card Scheme

A Card Scheme refers to an organisation like Visa and MasterCard that operate a network for payment transactions, giving banks and financial institutions the facility to issue cards and acquire card payments in the form of merchant services.


A chargeback is a reversed card transaction issued by a bank on behalf of the customer, this returns any amount credited to the merchant and returns it to the customer; typically due to disputed transactions, fraudulent transactions or in some cases simply processing errors.

Chip & PIN

Chip & Pin refers to an ICC or integrated circuit card, with embedded computer chip working in conjuction with a customer PIN used to authorize customer payments at point-of-sale.


CNP or Card Not Present transactions is a phrase used to describe card payments made by phone, often processed via virtual terminal.

Comparison Site

A “comparison site” with regard to merchant services is a website belonging to a third-party company claiming to offer users the facility to compare merchant services from a range of merchant services providers and acquiring banks; often acting as a funnel for a provider or a small number of select providers with which they are affiliated.

Contactless Payments

Contactless is system using wireless technology used to scan a customer payment card within range of a card reader at point-of-sale, rather than inserting the card and entering a PIN.



DCC or Dynamic Currency Conversion that allows payment processing for international customers in their native currency.



E-Commerce is a generic term for a range of online payment applications often an online store or online booking system.


EMV is a global standard for Chip and Pin technology in the UK and Ireland derived from Europay, Mastercard, VISA.


Face to Face Card Payments

Face to Face transactions with regard to card payments refers to payments where the cardholder is present at point of sale when the card payment takes place.



GPRS or General Packet Radio Service is standard for transferring data through cellular networks, and with regard to merchant services is used to enable card machines to send data for payment processing without a broadband or landline connection.



Interchange fees

Interchange fee are fees set by card schemes that acquiring banks pay the issuer or customer’s bank in payment for costs associated with processing each card transaction.

Issuing Bank

The issuer or issuing bank in merchant services terms refers to the financial institution that a customer’s card is issued and who they maintain a contract with for repayment of card transactions.


Merchant Services

Merchant Services is the term that has become popular for a range of services enabling merchants to process customer payments either online, face-to-face or over the phone.



OTC or Over The Counter payments are face-to-face card payments between customers and sellers, often performed over-the-counter.


Payment gateway

Payment Gateways are secure online servers used to processes card payments online, safely transmitting payment information between the issuer, card scheme and acquirer.

Payment Service Provider

A PSP or Payment Service Provider is a company that provides facilities for merchant to process Card Not Present transactions.


The PCI Security Standards Council’s mission is to enhance global payment account data security by developing standards and supporting services that drive education, awareness, and effective implementation by stakeholders.


POS or Point of Sale indicates the place where face-to-face card payments take place.



A QSA or Quality Security Assessor is a certified by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council to formally assess businesses for PCI DSS compliance.



A retrieval occurs when a customer disputes a payment and does not posses a receipt for a transaction and the issuer requests a copy of the receipt for the transaction.



A terminal with regard to merchant services is a card machine used to process card payments when the cardholder is present.


Virtual Terminal

A secure web page that facilitates processing of card not present transactions securely, while the customer is on the phone or by mail order.