Setting up a gateway between a merchant account and an eCommerce portal to accept online payments may seem like a simple process. But, what an online business entrepreneur may not know is accepting payments via the Internet and making sure those transactions are valid is a complex process. Thankfully, there are services available that help eCommerce businessesvalidate customer payment details and offer protectionagainst fraudulent transactions. These services are provided by companies called “payment processors.”
Payment processorscross-checkcredit and debit card transactions between customers and merchants. Theyare also the merchants’connection to acquiring banksandmust adhere to the standards and regulations of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). As such, they play an important role in the online payment process, which involves three steps: authorization, settlement and funding.
Step 1—Authorization:The authorization process is where credit and debit card details are verified, along with confirmation of sufficient credit or funds to cover the cost of products or services purchased. This step takes place within a few secondsthrough the use of a sophisticated computer processing system.
This is what happensonce a customer’s payment information is submitted:
- Payment details are sent from the merchant’s website to their payment processor.
- These payment details are then transferred by thepayment processor to the card brand.
- Next, a payment request is forwarded to the cardholder’s issuing bank by the card brand.
- The issuing bank approves or declines the payment request and notifies the card brand.
- Then the card brand sends theissuing bank’s response to the payment processor.
- The payment processor lets the merchant know whether the transaction is approved or declined.
- If the transaction is approved, an authorization number is issued.
Step 2—Settlement: The transaction payment is cleared for funding during the settlement processthrough the following actions:
- The merchant sends a settlement request for the approved transactionto their payment processor.
- The payment processorforwards the settlement requestto the card brandfor final confirmation from the cardholder’s issuing bank.
- The card brand issues the necessary instructions to the payment processor or issuing bank for collection of the payment amount.
- Then, the issuing bank posts the transactions to the customer’spaymentaccount.
Step 3—Funding: During this final step, monies due the merchant for the approved payment get deposited to the merchant’s bank account.