Acquirer, Processor, Gateway: Who is who?

What are the differences between an acquirer, a payment gateway, and a payment processor? This question is more and more difficult to answer in the realities of the modern merchant services market. Technically, a credit card acquirer is a bank, whose risk department decides whether to issue merchant accounts to applicants. An acquirer also assumes financial liability and risk related to chargeback handling, as well as merchant and consumer fraud. We can call a processor a technical arm of an acquiring bank, as it handles the technical side of transaction processing. A gateway, in its turn, is an entity, providing merchants with unified access to payment processors. In reality, many businesses fulfill different kinds of functions “all-in-one,” especially after the emergence of new entities called payment facilitators.

If you need more information on the responsibilities and functions of merchant acquirers, payment processors, and payment gateway providers, read the respective article on Paylosophy.

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