What is a Credit Card Processor ?
Credit Card Processor – Company that provides service bureau processing to client financial institutions to issues credit cards and authorize and settle credit card transactions. The largest Credit Card processor in the United States is First Data Corporation and its subsidiaries: First Data Resources (card issuing services), First Data Merchant Services (transaction processing) and Paymentech (transaction processing)
A payment processor is a company (often a third party) appointed by a merchant to handle transactions from various channels such as credit cards and debit cards for merchant acquiring banks. They are usually broken down into two types: front-end and back-end.
Front-end processors have connections to various card associations and supply authorization and settlement services to the merchant banks’ merchants. Back-end processors accept settlements from front-end processors and, via The Federal Reserve Bank for example, move the money from the issuing bank to the merchant bank.
In an operation that will usually take a few seconds, the payment processor will both check the details received by forwarding them to the respective card’s issuing bank or card association for verification, and also carry out a series of anti-fraud measures against the transaction.
Additional parameters, including the card’s country of issue and its previous payment history, are also used to gauge the probability of the transaction being approved.
Once the payment processor has received confirmation that the credit card details have been verified, the information will be relayed back via the payment gateway to the merchant, who will then complete the payment transaction. If verification is denied by the card association, the payment processor will relay the information to the merchant, who will then decline the transaction.
Electronic payments are highly susceptible to fraud and abuse. Liability for misuse of credit card data can expose the merchant to significant financial loss if they were to attempt to manage such risks on their own. One way to lower this cost and liability exposure is to segment the transaction of the sale from the payment of the amount due. Many merchants offer subscription services, which require payment from a customer every month. SaaS payment processors relieve the responsibility of the management of recurring payments from the merchant and maintain safe and secure the payment information, passing back to the merchant a payment “token” or unique placeholder for the card data. Through Tokenization, merchants are able to use this token to process charges, perform refunds, or void transactions without ever storing the payment card data, which can help to make the merchant system PCI-compliant. Another method of protecting payment card data is Point to Point Encryption, which encrypts cardholder data so that clear text payment information is not accessible within the merchant’s system in the event of a data breach. Some payment processors also specialize in high-risk processing for industries that are subject to frequent chargebacks, such as adult video distribution.
« Back to Glossary Index