You E-Business Needs a Virtual Terminal
There are a lot of online business owners who get flustered by the language associated with the merchant services business. And there are several terms that won’t make sense the first time one hears t...
There are a lot of online business owners who get flustered by the language associated with the merchant services business. And there are several terms that won’t make sense the first time one hears them, but by spending just a little time studying – and you thought you were done with homework – you can master the jargon of the credit card processing business, so you can make a solid decision on a provider for your e-retail operation.
Let’s start with you. While you are the owner of the business, the sake of this conversation you are the “merchant.” Granted that may make you feel like you are selling your wares in an open-air bazaar, but that’s what you are referred to into ecommerce language.
A “merchant account” is the contract between you and an acquiring bank for providing credit card processing services. The acquiring bank or the “acquirer” is the financial institution that creates and services the merchant account, receives your transactions and initiates the interchange with the credit card companies (VISA, MasterCard, American Express and/or Discover).
Speaking of credit cards, “card associations” are the payment networks that act as gateways between the acquirers and the issuers. It is here where the authorization and funding for transactions take place. The ‘issuer” is that financial institution that issues a credit card to an individual, and is also referred to as the issuing bank.
In online shopping a “shopping cart” refers to a software application that allows customers to collect their various items selected on your site for purchase. The cart maintains a total of all the items selected and usually can add in shipping and taxes during the checkout process. And since it is online it never has a wheel that wobbles or sticks.
The “virtual terminal” in the online version of that little box your credit card gets swiped through when you are at the store or any other institution that accepts credit cards as payment. It acts as a portal for processing credit card transactions. All online merchants have to have a virtual terminal to enable their business to accept payments online. It is also called a “payment gateway.”
When the transaction is in progress there has to be a “settlement.” This is the swapping of data or funds between the acquirer and the issuer that includes funding the merchant for the transaction, not to mention paying necessary fees due the issuer/acquirer for handling the transaction.
Something else that will be important to you as a merchant is a “batch.” A batch refers to the transactions accumulated during your business day that have been captured but not settled. Most merchants prefer to settle their batches at the end of the business day.
And last, but not least, the one person we haven’t talked much about are those folks without whose help you would be out of business – your customers. But in the world of merchant account services they are the “cardholder.” Obviously they are the ones who want to use their credit card to pay for the goods they want from your Internet business.
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