Kjell Vandevyvere

Payments Glossary

Even though making a payment is easy, everything that goes on behind the scenes can get really complicated. There are now dozens of ways to make a payment, and it feels like they’re inventing new words on a weekly basis. I’ve made this glossary to stay on top of all the acronyms, abbreviations and terms in payments and digital banking. If there’s a word you can’t find, please let me know, and I’ll add it as soon as possible. 




Two-factor authentication is a security process in which users provide two different authentication factors to verify themselves. It typically combines a password or PIN with a token or biometric verification.

3DS (3DS2)

Three Domain Secure is a security protocol for online card transactions. It involves three parties: the issuing bank, the acquiring bank, and the payment scheme. When the issuer authenticates a transaction, the customer is prompted to verify that they are the actual cardholder through a password or code. The Strong Customer Authentication regulation, as part of PSD2, has made this technology mandatory in Europe.


A2A Payments

Account-to-account payments directly transfer funds from one bank account to another without the need for intermediaries, such as card networks. A2A payments, facilitated by open banking, are gaining popularity because they are cheaper, faster and safer.

American Banking Association Routing Number (ABA RTN)

The American Banking Association Routing Number is a nine-digit code used in the United States to identify a financial institution in transactions. It is essential for the electronic transfer of funds directly between banks, such as A2A payments.

Access Token

An access token is a unique, single-use security token that grants users access to specific parts of an API, web application or digital service for a limited time.

Automated Clearing House (ACH)

The Automated Clearing House network facilitates electronic payments and money transfers between financial institutions in the United States of America without using paper checks, wire transfers, credit card networks, or cash. There are two types of ACH transactions: direct deposits and direct payments.


Bank accounts are places to store and manage your money. There are several types of accounts but not all of them matter in the world of payments. Buyers will typically use a (business) checking account and sellers will keep a merchant account. They might also have a foreign currency account


A (merchant) acquirer is a bank or financial institution that completes all the necessary steps to process a card transaction, such as fraud prevention. It communicates with the issuer to make sure the customer’s funds get into the merchant‘s account.

Acquiring Fee

The acquirer processing fee, acquiring markup, or merchant service fee is a charge paid to the acquirer for its services. The fees are calculated as a percentage of the transaction value or as a mix of a fixed fee per transaction and a percentage of the transaction value. The precise fee arrangement depends on the acquirer’s terms and the agreement with the merchant.


A payment aggregator helps small businesses and individuals process electronic payments without needing their own merchant accounts with banks or card schemes. It does this by letting many merchants use its single account to accept card payments.


Work in progress

Alternative Payment Method (APM)

An alternative payment method is any way to pay that doesn’t involve cash or a card from a major card scheme. Think digital wallets, bank transfers, direct debit and domestic cards.

Amazon Pay



Amex is short for American Express, one of the world’s largest card schemes along with Mastercard, UnionPay and Visa.


Anti-money laundering is a set of procedures, laws, and regulations that financial institutions follow to comply with legal requirements and prevent financial crime.


An Application Programming Interface is a software intermediary that allows two or more applications to communicate with each other to exchange data, features and functionality. A payment API allows companies to securely integrate payment processing functionality into their applications.

API Call

An API Call or API Request is when you send a message to an external server asking an API to provide you with a service or information.


An API Key is a unique code that identifies and authenticates API requests.

Apple Pay

Work in progress

Assured Payment System (APS)

An Assured Payment System is a secure payment system that guarantees payment to the merchant, ensuring that once a transaction is approved, the merchant will receive the payment, minimizing the risk of chargebacks or payment failures

Acquirer Reference Number (ARN)

An Acquirer Reference Number is a unique number that tags a credit card transaction when it goes from the merchant’s bank (acquirer) through a card scheme to the cardholder’s bank (issuer). 

Average Transaction Value (ATV)

 The Average Transaction Value is the average amount spent per transaction with a merchant, calculated over a specific period of time.


An authentication is the process of verifying the identity of a user or device, typically as a prerequisite to granting access to systems, transactions, or information in the payment process.



Authorisation is the process of verifying that a card transaction is approved by the card issuer. This involves checking the cardholder’s account for sufficient funds and validating the transaction’s security details. Authorisation ensures that the merchant can proceed with the sale securely.



Banking as a Service allows digital banks and other third-party providers to connect with banks’ systems directly via APIs so they can build banking offerings on top of the providers’ regulated infrastructure.


Bancontact is a local payment method that’s widely used in Belgium.

Basis Point

A basis point is one-hundredth of one per cent (0.01%). In payment processing, the interchange-plus rate is denoted in basis points.


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Bank Identification Number (BIN)

The Bank Identification Number is the initial sequence of four to six numbers on a credit card that identifies the card issuer.

Biometric Verification

Work in progress


Polish mobile payment method


Buy Now Pay Later


Cancellation Fee

Work in progress


Capture is the process of collecting authorised credit card transaction details, finalising the transaction, and moving the funds from the cardholder to the merchant’s account.

Card Association

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Card Issuer

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Card Number

Work in progress

Card Scheme

A card scheme is a payment network linked to payment cards, like debit or credit cards, that sets the rules and facilitates payment processing. The largest card schemes in the world are American Express, Mastercard, UnionPay, and Visa.

Card Scheme Fee

Work in progress

Cartes Bancaires

A local card scheme popular in France.

Card Authentication Value (CAV)

The card authentication value is a 3-digit code that can typically be found on the back of a JCB card. It’s a security feature for card transactions, providing increased protection against credit card fraud. Other card schemes may use a different name.

Central Counterparties (CCPs)

Central Counterparties


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a U.S. government agency dedicated to making sure you are treated fairly by banks, lenders and other financial institutions.


The Clearing House Automated Payments System facilitates large money transfers in GBP. Multinational banks mainly use it for nearly instantaneous transactions.


A demand by a credit card provider for a merchant to make good the loss on a fraudulent or disputed transaction.


The Clearing House Interbanks Payment System facilitates is the largest clearing house in the US for large domestic and cross-border transactions.

Card ID (CID)

The Card ID, card identification number or card identification code is a 4-digit code that can typically be found on the front of an Amex card. It’s a security feature for card transactions, providing increased protection against credit card fraud. Other card schemes may use a different name.

Cash on Delivery (CoD)

Cash on delivery


Clearing is the process of verifying both sides of a transaction to guarantee a smooth and secure transfer of funds from one financial institution to another.

Clearing House

A clearing house is a bank or independent third party that verifies transactions. In case of a  dispute, the clearing house steps in as a mediator.

CNP Transactions

Card-not-present transactions 

Contactless Payments

A contactless payment uses Near Field Communication to enable payments by holding a card or electronic device close to a POS terminal.

Correspondent Account

Work in progress

CP Transactions

Card present transactions 

Credit Card

Work in progress


Crediting is the act of adding money to an account. 

Card Security Code (CSC)

A card security code is a 3-digit code that can typically be found on the back of a card. It’s a security feature for card transactions, providing increased protection against credit card fraud. The CSC is used by Amex debit cards. Other card schemes may use a different name.

Currency Code

Work in progress

Currency Exchange

Work in progress

Card Verification Code (CVC)

The card verification code is a 3-digit code that can typically be found on the back of a Mastercard card. It’s a security feature for card transactions, providing increased protection against credit card fraud. Other card schemes may use a different name.

Cardholder Verification Method (CVM)

The Cardholder Verification Method is one of a series of techniques used to verify the identity of the cardholder during a transaction, such as a PIN, signature or biometric verification.

Card Verification Number (CVN)

The card verification number or card validation number is a 3-digit code typically found on the back of a UnionPay card. It’s a security feature for card transactions, providing increased protection against credit card fraud. Other card schemes may use a different name.

Card Verification Value (CVV)

The card verification value is a 3-digit code that can typically be found on the back of a Visa card. It’s a security feature for card transactions, providing increased protection against credit card fraud. Other card schemes may use a different name.


Data Controller

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Data Processor

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Dynamic Currency Conversion is a financial service in which credit card purchases are converted to the local currency of the merchant at the point of sale, often at an unfavourable exchange rate with high fees.

Debit Card

Work in progress

Digital Bank

Work in progress

Digital Customer Recognition

Digital Customer Recognition is the use of digital methods, such as cookies or device fingerprinting, to recognise and verify the identity of customers online for personalised experiences or security measures.

Digital Wallet

Work in progress

Direct Debit

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Direct Deposit

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Direct Payment

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A process that allows cardholders to file a complaint regarding fraudulent or inaccurate transactions on their statement.


Digital Primary Account Number

Due Dilligence

Work in progress



European Banking Authority


European Central Bank


Work in progress


 Electronic Funds Transfer Act


Electronic funds transfer at point of sale


Electronic wallets

Electronic Payments

Electronic payments or e-payments are ..

Embedded Banking

Embedded banking involves integrating banking services into non-bank business models. The goal is to provide a seamless customer experience that includes financial services without the need to visit a bank.

Embedded Finance

Embedded finance is the process of integrating financial solutions into the customer journeys of non-financial companies, enabling these companies to offer financial services.


An Electronic Money Institution is a financial institution authorised to issue electronic money, or e-money, which is stored electronically and used for transactions.


The process of converting sensitive data into an unreadable format through complex algorithms and cryptographic keys.

Exchange Rate

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Expiry Date

Work in progress


Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA)

Faster Payments Service (FPS)

Faster Payments Service in a payment system for quick domestic transactions in the UK. For low-value transactions it’s an efficient and real-time alternative to CHAPS.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation US


Federal Reserve Wire Network

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

Financial Conduct Authority

Financial Institution

Work in progress

Financial Services and Market Authority (FSMA)

The Financial Services and Markets Authority

Floor Limit

The floor limit is a predetermined amount above which the card issuer must authorise credit card transactions. Transactions below the floor limit may be processed without authorisation to accelerate the process.

Foreign Currency Account

Work in progress

Foreign Exchange


Funds Disbursement

the payment of money from a particular fund or source, such as your business bank account, to individuals or other businesses, which can be in the form of cash or a cash equivalent such as an electronic transfer

FX Conversion

Work in progress

FX Rate

Work in progress


Gateway Fees

Work in progress


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Google Pay

Work in progress


Hard Decline

Work in progress

High-Risk Merchant Account

A merchant account for businesses in higher-risk industries such as gambling, adult movies and e-cigarettes.


Integrated Circuit Card (ICC)

An Integrated Circuit Card is a payment card equipped with a microchip. The chip securely stores the cardholder’s data, offering enhanced security compared to magnetic stripe cards.


local payment method popular in the Netherlands

Issuer Identification Number

The Issuer Identification Number is the first part of the PAN and consists of a series of digits that identify the card issuer.

Instant Payments

Instant payments are immediate money transfers based on SCT Inst, a scheme that makes funds available to the receiver within 10 seconds, no matter the time or day. (Source)


Interac is a Canadian interbank network for domestic money transfers.

Interchange Fee

The interchange rate is a fee paid by the merchant’s bank (acquirer) to the cardholder’s bank (issuer) for each transaction made via a card scheme. Card schemes determine the rates based the type of card, transaction, Merchant Category Code and more.

Interchange +

interchange plus 

Interchange ++

interchange plus plus

Intermediary Bank

Work in progress

International Transaction Fees

Work in progress

ISO 20022

ISO20022 is an international standard for the development of messages in the financial sector. It supports the inclusion of richer, better-structured transaction data in payment messages. (source)

ISO 7812

The ISO 7812 standard specifies a numbering system for the identification of card issuers. See IIN and PAN. (Source)

ISO 8583

The ISO 8583 standard specifies a common interface by which acquirers and issuers can interchange information about financial transactions made with payment cards. (Currently ISO 8583:2023)(Source)


The card issuer is a bank, financial institution or agents that issues a card to the cardholder. Issuers are responsible for authorisation, billing and payment of tranactions.



Japanese credit card company



Know your business


Know your business


Know Your Customer is a process businesses, especially financial institutions, use to verify the identity of their clients either before or during the time that they start doing business with them. The three essential components of KYC are the Customer Identification Program (CIP), Customer Due Diligence (CDD) and ongoing monitoring.


know your transaction


Late Payment Fee

Work in progress

Local Payment Method



debit product by Mastercard

Magnetic Stripe Reader

A magnetic stripe reader is a device used in POS terminals to read the information encoded on a card’s magnetic stripe.

Manual Keyed Entry

Manual Keyed Entry is a method of card payment processing in which the card details are manually entered into a POS terminal or payment gateway rather than swiped or inserted. It is often used when the card is not physically present or the magnetic stripe/chip cannot be read.


A marketplace is an online platform that facilitates transactions between multiple third-party sellers and consumers. Marketplaces may handle payments, listings, and other aspects of eCommerce.


Mastercard is one of the world’s largest card schemes along with American Express, UnionPay and Visa.


A Merchant Category Code is a four-digit code assigned to a business by card schemes companies based on the goods or services it sells. The merchant category affects interchange rates and processing fees, as well as taxation. Card schemes, issuers, and acquirers can use MCCs to categorize, track, and restrict transactions.


Work in progress

Merchant Acceptance

Work in progress

Merchant Account

A merchant account is a type of business bank account that allows a business to accept and process electronic payments and card transactions.

Merchant Account Provider

A bank or financial institution that provides accounts for merchants

Merchant Account Provider Fee

Work in progress

Merchant ID

A Merchant Identification Number (MID) is a unique code given to each merchant by an acquirer or payment processor to track transactions.

Merchant of Record

A merchant of record is the legal entity that handles payments. It is responsible for legal compliance, financial liability, tax management, PCI compliance, and refunds and chargebacks.


Multi-factor Authentication requires users to provide at least three forms of verification to log in or authorise a payment. Factors could be basic login details, one-time passwords, biometric verification, tokens, or push notifications (SMS or email). (See 2FA)

Mobile Banking

Work in progress


The Multilateral Interchange Fee is a fee paid by the merchant’s bank to the consumer’s banks for each card payment. Multilateral means that the fees are agreed between a number of banks or imposed by a card scheme.

Mobile Wallet

Work in progress

Multi-Currency Account



Network Token

Work in progress


Near Field Communication is a set of communication protocols that enables wireless data transfer between two electronic devices by bringing them within close proximity. It’s the technology that enables contactless payments with cards, smartphones, smartwatches … 

NSF Return

A Non-Sufficient Funds return occurs when the payee does not have enough money in their account to cover a check or a debit transaction.


OAuth (OAuth 2.0)

Work in progress

Offline Debit Transaction

Work in progress

Omni-Channel Payments

Omni-channel payments are a series of solutions that allow customers to pay with their preferred payment method and enjoy a seamless customer experience across channels when shopping online or in-store.

One-Click Payment

One-Click Payments is a  payment method that allows customers to make purchases with a single click, without the need to re-enter payment details for each transaction. This is enabled by securely storing the customer’s payment information for future use.

Online Banking

Work in progress

Open Banking

Open Banking is the practice of securely granting third-party financial service providers access to and control over personal bank accounts through APIs.

Open Finance

Open Finance is an extension of open banking, allowing authorised third-party service providers access to a wider range of customer data from various accounts, such as savings, pensions, investments, insurance, mortgages and more. 


A one-time password is an authentication factor used in 2FA and MFA. OTPs can be shared via SMS, hardware devices, authentication apps or even paper copies. An OTP is also called a one-time PIN, one-time authorization code (OTAC) or dynamic password.



push to account


push to card


Point-to-Point Encryption is a security standard that encrypts data from the moment it is entered into a POS terminal until it has been processed by the payment processor. It keeps the data secure in transit and renders it useless if stolen. 

P2P Payments

person to person payments


The Primary Account Number is a series of maximum 19 digits displayed on the front of a card that identifies the card issuer and the cardholder.


Work in progress


Work in progress

Payment Acceptance

Work in progress

Payment Aggregator

A payment aggregator, or merchant aggregator, helps small businesses and individuals process electronic payments without needing their own merchant accounts with banks or card schemes. It does this by letting many merchants use its single account to accept card payments. After processing the payments and deducting their fees, aggregators transfer the money to the merchant on a regular basis. 

Payment Attempt

Work in progress

Payment Brand

Payment brands originally refers to card scheme companies, however, it may also include new payment solutions that go beyond traditional card payments.

Payment Card Processing

Payment Code

Work in progress

Payment Facilitator

A Payment Facilitator (Payfac) is a service provider that simplifies the merchant account enrolment process. Payment facilitators accept transactions on behalf of smaller merchants just like payment aggregators but they offer a wider range of services, including fraud prevention, security, customer support, reporting and analytics. Clients of a payfac get their own merchant ID within the system while clients of an aggregator don’t.

Payment Flow

Work in progress

Payment Gateway

A payment gateway gathers card information and sends it to a payment processor. It’s recognisable as the checkout page on a website where buyers share their card details and confirm their purchase.  The gateway also receives the necessary information to approve or decline transactions.

Payment Method

Work in progress

Payment Network

Work in progress

Payment Orchestration

Payment Orchestration is a layer between merchants and payment partners that helps manage a diverse array of payment methods, providers, and channels through a unified platform. 

Payment Platform

Work in progress

Payment Processing Fees

Work in progress

Payment Processor

A payment processor is a financial institution chosen by a merchant to process their payments. It gathers the buyer’s card information from a payment gateway, and passes it to the acquirer and issuer via the card scheme. After authenticating the buyer and receiving authorisation from the issuer, the processor transfers the funds from the buyer to the merchant. Nowadays, payment processors also process payments via alternative payment methods that do not require a card scheme.

Payment Rail

Payment rails are the underlying infrastructure and systems that make money transfers possible. For example, ACH, SWIFT, SEPA, card schemes, mobile payment systems and blockhain technologies.

Payment Reversal

A payment reversal, or reversal transaction, happens when an ongoing transaction is cancelled before the money is settled in the merchant’s account. It’s quicker and cheaper than a refund.

Payment Routing

Payment routing allows merchants to send each transaction to the optimal payment gateway based on selected parameters to maximise success rates and reduce costs.

Payment Security

Payment security encompasses the systems, processes, and measures employed to protect financial transactions from unauthorised access, data breaches and fraud.


A payout is the process of transferring funds from a company to an individual or another business. In e-commerce, payouts refer to the transfer of funds to a seller’s or service provider’s bank account.


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Work in progress


The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is designed to protect credit card information during and after a financial transaction. PCI compliance is mandatory for all entities that store, process, or transmit cardholder data. Currently PCI DSS v4.0 is being rolled out.


The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council is the organisation behind the PCI DSS and other PCI standards. (source)


PayFac as a Service


Work in progress

Platform Banking

Work in progress


A point of sales, or point of service, is the location where a transaction takes place. 

POS Terminal

A POS terminal is a device used to accept payments at retail locations. It is connected to the merchant’s bank to authorise and finalise transactions.

Preferred Payment

Work in progress

Processing Fee

Work in progress


The Payments Services Directive is legislation about a single market for payments in Europe with the goal of making cross-border payments easier and safer. PSD1 was introduced in 2007 and it was followed by PSD2 in 2015 to include newer technologies that were previously unregulated.  The European Commission is currently working on PSD3, which will include a Payments Services Regulation (PSR). (source1 & source2)

Payment Service Provider (PSP)

A payment service provider (PSP) is a financial institution that offers payment card services as well as alternative payment methods so merchants can receive different types of payments.



Work in progress


Real-Time Monitoring

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A refund is the process of returning money to a customer, typically for a product or service that was unsatisfactory or not delivered as expected. It happens after the funds have been settled in the merchant’s account. The acquiring bank will reimburse the customer via the same payment method, often resulting in additional interchange fees for the merchant.

Regulatory Authorities

Work in progress


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Rewards Programme

Work in progress

Risk Appetite

Work in progress

Risk Management

Risk management in payments is the analysis, monitoring and management of risks in the payment process due to fraud, chargebacks and card data loss.

Risk Tolerance

Work in progress

Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS)

 Real-time gross settlement is a system where the transfer of money or securities happens from one bank to another on a “real-time” and on a “gross” basis. Settlements are typically used for high-value transactions that need immediate clearing.

Real-Time Payments (RTS)

Real-time payments are instantaneous or near-instantaneous transactions, meaning the payee’s account is credited within seconds. (See instant payments.)


Strong Customer Authentication (SCA)

Strong Customer Authentication is a requirement of the European Union’s PSD2 for electronic payments to undergo a two-factor authentication process to increase security. To comply with SCA requirements, at least two of the following three factors must be included:

  • Something you know – email, password, security information
  • Something you have – mobile app, smart card, token, OTP
  • Something you are – biometric factors like a fingerprint, face ID, iris scan, voice recognition

Scheme Fee

A Scheme fee is  a fee charged by card networks to acquirers and issuers for participating in their network. These fees cover a range of processes, including transaction processing, fraud prevention, and brand usage.

Sellor of Record

Work in progress


The Single European Payments Area (SEPA) allows customers to make cashless euro payments via credit transfers and direct debit in 36 European countries. It aims to make cross-border euro transfers equivalent to a domestic transfer within one’s own country. (Source)

SEPA Direct Debit

SEPA Direct Debit (SDD)

SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (SCT Inst)

SCT Inst (SEPA Instant Credit Transfer) is a pan-European payment scheme that allows money transfers in Europe in less than 10 seconds. (source)


The process by which a transaction is settled or completed, ensuring that the payment has been transferred to the rightful recipient and all parties agree to the transaction details.

Settlement Fidelity Directive (SFD)

Settlement Fidelity Directive

Smart Contract

Work in progress


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Subscription Payment

Work in progress


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The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is a company with an international messaging network for participating financial institutions to facilitate international transactions between these institutions.


Third-Party Processing

Work in progress


TARGET Instant Payment Settlement enables PSPs to offer fund transfers in real time around the clock. Thanks to TIPS customers and merchants can exchange funds with each other within seconds. (source)


The Truth in Savings Act enables consumers to make informed decisions about bank accounts. It requires banks to disclose terms and costs of deposit accounts and imposes requirements for deposit account advertisements.


A randomized alphanumeric code representing your payment information without actually revealing it.


Tokenization adds an extra layer of security and allows for recurring payments without storing your sensitive data locally, reducing the risk of breaches


Any agreement or exchange between two parties where goods, services, or money are exchanged. In financial terms, it refers to any event that affects a financial statement, such as a sale, purchase, deposit, or withdrawal.

Transaction Fee

Work in progress


A transfer is when a cardholder moves funds from one account to another account from the same financial institution. The accounts must be linked to the same card.



China UnionPay is one of the world’s largest card schemes, along with American Express, Mastercard and Visa. Even though the majority of card payments over the network happen in China, UnionPay has partners all over the globe.


Verification Process

Work in progress

Virtual Card

Work in progress

Virtual IBAN

A virtual International Bank Account Number is a reference number issued by banks to facilitate international payments without the need for a physical account in the destination country.


Visa is one of the world’s largest card schemes along with American Express, MasterCard, and UnionPay.

Visa Direct

Work in progress


Work in progress

V Pay

Debit card by Visa that’s accepted in a few European countries.



Work in progress

WeChat Pay

Work in progress










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