Payments Glossary

eCommerce concepts defined: an A-Z reference guide for industry terms.

An exhaustively curated list of the words and definitions commonly used across the payments ecosystem — including acronyms. These short explanations can provide any merchant with a quick knowledge boost and easy-to-use reference guide

ABA (American Bankers Association) Routing Number

Also referred to as a Routing Transit Number. Directs electronic ACH deposits to the proper financial institution.

ACH (Automated Clearing House)

The paperless funds transfer system maintained by the Federal Reserve or other entities that have networks to exchange electronic funds transfer items.


A financial institution that maintains the merchant credit card processing relationship and receives all transactions from the merchant to be distributed to the Cardmember financial institutions.

ACS Access Control Server

Combines access security, authentication, user and administrator access and policy control in a centralized identity framework. Credit card issuers are required to maintain an ACS used to support cardholder authentication

Alternative Payments

Refers to payment methods that are used as an alternative to credit card payments. Most alternative payments have been developed specifically for eCommerce. They can be stored value cards, digital wallets, and other alternative payment methods that are specific to geographic regions and target audiences.

American Express

Provider of credit cards, charge cards and traveler’s check businesses.

American Express SafeKey

One of the 3-D Secure protocols that works to reduce online fraud by confirming the Cardmember’s identity with an additional password.

Application Service Provider ASP

A third-party entity that manages and distributes software-based services and solutions to customers across a wide area network from a central data center.


The process followed by the card companies to determine whether an Issuer or an Acquirer has ultimate responsibility for a chargeback. Either member initiates this process after the re-presentment process is completed.


The process whereby the actual identity of a party is verified by means of providing secret information to the validating agent. The secret information is assumed to be known only to the party and the validating agent.


The process of verifying that a credit card has sufficient funds to cover the amount of the transaction. An approval response code is sent to the merchant from the card issuer that verifies availability of credit or funds on the cardholder account.

Authorization Amount

The amount of a transaction that is submitted to the authorizer for approval. This amount is reserved against the available balance of a consumer’s credit card.

Authorization Code

The code assigned to the transaction once it has been approved by the processor.

Authorization Only

Transactions of this type are entered and submitted for authorization. These transactions will not be automatically submitted for settlement. In order to capture funds, you must first perform a capture action against the transaction.

Authorized Pending Capture

These transactions have been approved by the authorizer but have not yet settled. Transactions in this state have been authorized only and will not be settled until a capture action is performed against the transactions. These transactions will remain in an unsettled state until the capture action is performed.

AVS Address Verification Service

A service through which a merchant may verify a Cardholder’s billing address against the card issuer’s records during the authorization process and prior to completing a sale; helpful in preventing fraud when processing card-not-present transactions.

Back-end Processor

A data processing company that contracts with Acquirers to provide communication and processing systems that connect with the interchange systems for clearing and settlement services on behalf of those Acquirers. (In some cases the Acquirer may act as its own back-end processor.)

Bank Account Number

The number of a bank account provided for a given transaction. For any eCheck charge or refund transaction, a full bank account number must be provided.

Bank Account Type

This indicates the type of bank account provided by a customer for an eCheck transaction. The valid values for this field are Checking or Savings.


Any valid card issued by a card-issuing organization that is presented in payment for goods and services or to obtain cash advances.

Basis Points

A unit of measure used commonly in the financial industry when discussing interest rates and interchange rates where differences of less than one percent are common; one hundredth of a percentage point.

Batch Processing

Data communications transmission in which transactions are grouped together and transmitted for processing.


When a merchant processes a transaction, the transaction typically clears at an assigned interchange level (e.g., eCommerce Basic), which is usually the interchange level at which the merchant was priced or at the interchange level where the majority of the transactions typically clear. When a transaction clears at a different interchange level other than where the merchant is priced, they are charged or credited the difference between the clearing interchange rate and the priced interchange rate.

BIN Bank Identification Number

A unique six-digit number to identify processors, acquirers, issuers and other financial institutions involved in the interchange process; it is the first six digits of the cardholder’s account number. Also known as Issuer Identification Number (IIN).


A decentralized digital currency.


A sale that would have occurred on one form of payment, but now occurs with a different form of payment offered to the shopper. Merchants prefer incremental sales over cannibalized sales.


An action in which an electronic credit card sale transaction is submitted for financial settlement. Authorized credit card sales must be captured and settled in order for a merchant to receive credit for their sales and a cardholder’s account to be debited/credited.

Captured/Pending Settlement

Transactions with this status have been approved, captured and are awaiting settlement. These transactions will be submitted for settlement according to the transaction cut off time associated with the merchant account.

Card Brands

Corporations that connect consumers, businesses and financial institutions to transact through electronic payments instead of cash and checks. Popular brands are MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover.


A person or entity that is issued a credit or debit account that is accessed through the use of a card.

Cardholder Authentication Verification Value CAVV

Cardholder Authentication Verification Value is generated by the credit card issuer using a complex mathematical algorithm. This value can only be generated by the credit card issuer and can be verified by Visa, MasterCard or by the issuer. The CAVV is used to detect any change in transaction data after the issuer has authorized the transaction

Cardinal Consumer Authentication

Cardinal’s proprietary rules-based Consumer Authentication solution, to allow merchants and banks to authenticate their consumers during transactions by using merchant-controlled rules. Merchants can balance the risk of each transaction with their consumers’ preferences and needs.

Card-not-Present Transactions

Credit or debit card transactions in which the card is not physically present, from the merchant’s perspective, at the time of the actual transaction; e.g. eCommerce (internet) and mail/phone order transactions.


A bankcard transaction that is under dispute. This action is initiated by the card issuing financial institution to settle a financial claim between the Issuer and Acquirer. This claim may be initiated by the issuing financial institution directly or by their consumer, the cardholder, and can result in the transaction being billed back to the merchant

Chip Cards

Also known as EMV cards. A type of credit/debit card with a computer chip embedded into it. Chip cards make in-person transactions more secure, but make card-not-present transactions more prone to fraud.


The transfer of data between Issuers and Acquirers.

Communication Error

Transactions of this status experienced an error connecting to the processor. These transactions are not re-submitted or sent for settlement.

Consumer Authentication

The term used to describe tools intended to verify that the person making the transaction is actually the person authorized to do so, in both in-person and card-not-present transactions.

Contactless Payments

Devices that use radio frequency identification for making secure payments. Embedded chip and antenna enable consumers to wave a device over a reader at point of sale.

Control Number

Number that uniquely identifies a retrieval request or chargeback.


Someone who breaks into someone else’s computer system, often on a network, bypassing passwords and licenses or otherwise breaches computer security.

Credit Card Number

The number on the credit card provided for a given transaction. For any charge or refund transactions against a credit card, the credit card number must be provided. In the case of refund transactions, the first four and last four digits may be provided in lieu of the full number.

Credit/Pending Settlement

Transactions of this status have been entered as credits, but have not yet been submitted for settlement. These transactions will remain in this unsettled state until they are submitted for settlement. Once a credit has been settled, the status changes to Credited.


Transactions with this status are refund transactions that have been successfully processed within the system. This refund has been successfully applied against the payment method. No further action may be taken against these transactions.


The currency associated with the amount of a transaction.

Customer ID

This is an internal identifier for a consumer that may be associated with the billing information of a transaction. This field may contain any format of information.

CVC2/CVV2 (Card Verification Code and Card Verification Value)

These are terms used by MasterCard and Visa respectively for the codes printed on the cardholder signature panel following the full or partial account number as a security feature. When provided by the cardholder and contained in the authorization record, it allows the issuer to verify the physical presence of the card. Merchant has re-presentment rights and additional protection for specific chargeback codes when issuer approval and authentication of this value occur. Applicable to card-not-present transactions.

CVV2 Status

This value indicates the level of match between the CVV2 code entered on a transaction and the value that is on file with a customer’s credit card company. A code and narrative description are provided indicating the results returned by the processor.

Data Breach

Unintentional release of secure information to an untrusted environment

Data Security Standard (DSS)

PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). Common standards for merchants and third parties resulting from the alignment of MasterCard, Visa and other card associations with the similar goal of protecting payment card account data wherever it is received or stored.

Debit Card

Plastic card that gives the cardholder access to their checking account at their financial institution. Transactions (both online and offline) that use a debit card immediately transfer the funds from the checking account associated with the card.


Transactions that are not approved are marked as declined. These transactions may not be captured and submitted for settlement.

Digital Wallets

Digital wallets allow consumers to shop online and pay using a wallet system, rather than entering a credit card for each purchase. Wallets typically use a user name and PIN or other security device to authenticate the buyer

Discount Rate

A discount rate is a fee associated with collecting, assessing, approving, processing, and settling credit card transactions. This fee is often a percentage of the transaction value.

Discover Card

Financial services company providing credit cards, banking and payments products.


Electronic version of a paper check, often used to conduct transactions over the internet.


Internet-originated transactions. Also, the use of the internet for commercial purposes such as banking, shopping, or purchases of financial services and products.

eCommerce Indicator (ECI)

An indicator flag for all transactions that are generated via eCommerce. This flag is intended to identify to the banking network all eCommerce transactions. The value is exactly a decimal 2 digit value, passed in authorization messages.

Email Address

An email address may be provided along with the billing information of a transaction.

EMV (Europay-MasterCard-Visa)

Also known as chip cards. A type of credit/debit card with a computer chip embedded into it. EMV cards make in-person transactions more secure, but make card-not-present transactions more prone to fraud.


A method of coding data, using an algorithm, to protect it from unauthorized access. There are many types of data encryption, and they are the basis of network security.

End-to-End Encryption

Uninterrupted protection of the integrity and confidentiality of transmitted data by encoding it at the start and decoding it at the end of the transaction.

Expiration Date

The date on which a credit card is no longer valid. Transactions will only be successfully authorized and settled for credit cards whose expiration dates have not passed.


Fees for screening and processing online payments may include, but are not limited to, costs for the following:

  • Monthly Account
  • Discount rate 
  • Per item charges for credit card and electronic check transactions


The crime of using dishonest methods to take something of value from another person or entity. Fraudsters dupe and deceive consumers to commit fraud (steal their identity or credentials).

Fraud Score

For merchants using fraud screening programs, a fraud score may be available during transaction authorization. This is a number, usually between 0 and 1000, that represents the overall fraud risk of a particular transaction. The higher the number, the riskier the transaction.

Friendly Fraud

Friendly fraud is the term used when a consumer (or someone with access to their credit card) makes a purchase and then initiates a chargeback (saying that they did not make the purchase and/or did not receive the goods or services).


A computer application that routes transactions from eCommerce websites to a financial institution’s processing system. Gateways typically offer transaction management, reporting, and fraud screening functionality. Charges are usually per transaction basis.

Gift Cards

A magnetic stripe or smart (chip) card that replaces paper gift certificates that are most often used in retail, restaurant and lodging establishments


A person who uses computers to gain unauthorized access to data, or a person who seeks and exploits weaknesses in a computer system or network.

Hosted checkout

A service provided to accept debit and credit payments online.

Interchange Fees

Fee paid (percentage of each transaction) by the acquirer to card issuing banks. Covers cost of fraud, accounts paying off monthly balances, etc. MasterCard and Visa have multiple interchange fees, based on card type, merchant type and market data requirements; covers the risk of loss and the cost of processing the transaction.

Interchange Network

An electronic network maintained by American Express, Discover, MasterCard, or Visa that exchanges data relating to the value of card sales and credits among Issuers and Acquirers.


Any American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa member, or a commercial organization that establishes and maintains consumer and business credit lines that are accessed through the use of a card. (Also public and private companies and financial institutions that offer card-accessed lines of credit to consumers and businesses.)

JCB (Japanese Credit Bureau)

Credit cards issued by the Japanese Credit Bureau, established in Japan in 1961, which are now owned by American Express.


Old fashioned credit card reader.

Liability shift

The liability for chargebacks resulting from fraudulent transactions moves from the merchant to the issuing financial institution when the merchant has authenticated the transaction. Without Consumer Authentication, merchants are liable for chargebacks.

MasterCard SecureCode

This is a program offered by MasterCard to increase security and reduce fraud on internet-initiated purchases. One of the 3-D Secure protocols. The merchant’s website interfaces with MasterCard to obtain the specified fields at the time of purchase. These values are then submitted with the authorization request to verify that this is an authentic cardholder purchase.


A technology company and payments industry leader.

MCC or SIC Codes

Special numbers assigned by the card companies to Seller types for identification and tracking purposes. MasterCard uses MCC (Merchant Category Code), while Visa uses SIC (Standard Industry Codes).


Also see Retailer. In eCommerce terms, any business that accepts credit or debit cards, alternative payment methods or digital wallets as a source of payment. Merchant is the party that offers goods for sale or provides services in exchange for payment.

Merchant Identification Number

A number each merchant is provided under the card acceptance agreement, which is unique to that merchant.

Merchant Plug-In (MPI)

A software module, used to provide an interface between a software service and merchants’ payment processing software. Some examples are the 3-D Secure protocols. The software also verifies Issuers’ digital signatures in the authentication responses returned to the merchant.

Merchant Service Provider (MSP)

Provides a merchant with an account, processing and report tools to enable that merchant to process online transactions. Each transaction is facilitated by the MSP on behalf of the Merchant.


Mail Order and Telephone Order card sales, typically authorized through a manual POS terminal.

Mobile Commerce

Business that is conducted on the internet with mobile phones or other wireless hand-held devices.

Mobile Payments

Using a mobile phone to pay for a wide range of services, digital and hard goods. Mobile payments can be made using direct operator billing (or WAP billing) allows the charges to be added to the user’s mobile bill. Mobile payments can also be made using a credit card or mobile wallet.


A computer network is a data communications system which interconnects computer systems at different sites or locations.

NFC (Near Field Communications)

Set of standards for smartphones and other devices to establish radio communications with each other by touching them together or bringing them into close proximity (usually no more than a few inches).

One-Time Password (OTP)

A password that is only good for one login session or transaction. OTPs avoid shortcomings associated with static passwords, in that they are not vulnerable to replay attacks. A potential fraudster using a one-time password that has previously been used will not be able to abuse it, since it will no longer be valid.

Online Payments

The process of exchanging money electronically to pay for goods or services, using the internet, computer networks and digital stored value systems

Partial Reversal Status

In the case of a prior authorization capture transaction, a partial reversal may apply. This value indicates the success of the partial reversal transaction.

Payment Amount

The amount of a transaction submitted for authorization. This is the amount authorized against the specified payment method.

Payment Gateway

An Internet-based service that transports credit card information from a computer terminal or Web site to a credit card processor, where it can be verified.

Payment Method

The form of payment provided against a transaction. In the case of credit card charges or refunds, the payment method reflects the type of credit card. In the case of eCheck transactions, the payment method would be eCheck indicating that a consumer’s checking account has been charged or refunded. All transactions entered through the system must contain a valid payment method.

PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards)

Common standards for merchants and third parties resulting from the alignment of MasterCard, Visa and other card associations with the similar goal of protecting payment card account data wherever it is received or stored.

PIN (Personal Identification Number)

A number that is assigned to consumers to identify them when they use debit cards at an ATM, point-of-sale device or a home device. Also used with some credit cards.

POS (Point of Sale)

The merchant location where a transaction originates between a cardholder and a merchant with the card and cardholder present; typically, the card magnetic stripe is read or the chip card is inserted into the reader and the cardholder’s signature is obtained.


A member, MasterCard and/or Visa, or a MasterCard/ Visa approved non-member acting as the agent of a member, that provides authorization, clearing or settlement services for merchants and members. Processors must have a sponsoring bank in order to gain access to interchange networks and provide for the settlement of funds. A business entity that receives a Monetary Destination file for clearing purposes.

PSP (Payment Service Provider)

Company that provides merchants the ability to accept electronic payments. PSPs can connect to financial institutions, card and payment networks and manage relationships with them as a service to merchants.

Recurring Billing Transaction

A recurring billing transaction indicates that a similar transaction is submitted multiple times over a period of time. This flag is sent to the processor during authorization indicating that this is a recurring billing transaction.

Reference Transaction ID

This is the transaction ID that links transactions to an original or parent transaction. In the case of credit transactions, a reference transaction ID may be entered to link the subsequent credit to the original transaction within the system.

Re-presentment (Reversal)

The re-submission by an Acquirer of a previously charged back sale in an attempt to re-charge the Cardholder. Chargebacks require some form of additional documentation confirming the validity of the charge and disputing the original chargeback reason.


Also see Merchant. In eCommerce terms, any business that accepts credit or debit cards, alternative payment methods or digital wallets, as a source of payment. The retailer is the party which offers goods for sale or provides services in exchange for payment.

Retrieval Request

A retrieval request occurs when a consumer requests more information about a transaction that appears on his or her credit card statement.

Routing Number

The number associated with an eCheck transaction that identifies the financial institution associated with a customer’s checking account.

Sales Draft

The paper or electronic evidence of a purchase.

Secure Payment Page

A secure payment page assures consumers that their payment information is encrypted for privacy and data integrity before it is sent over the Internet. This page is typically identified by the “s” in https:// (instead of http://). Payment gateway providers make this necessary eCommerce link possible by hosting the payment gateway software and individual secure payment pages on their own servers.


A MasterCard security solution designed to authenticate cardholders when paying online; one of the 3-D Secure protocols. It standardizes the data transport infrastructure for passing cardholder authentication information among the merchant, acquirer, and issuer communities.


Protection from harm. In eCommerce terms, security is ensuring that transactions are not open to fraud. In eCommerce systems, security protocols protect the consumer, the merchant and the bank from hackers and fraudsters.

Seller Account or Online Seller Account

The financial institution account a Seller identifies as the sole account from which monthly and/or transaction fees are debited.

Seller Bank

(Acquirer or Processor) The financial institution with which a Seller contracts to accept credit cards for payment of goods and services.

Seller Fees

Sellers are charged several types of fees for screening and processing online payments. Fees for products and services include, but are not limited to costs for the following:

  • Monthly Online Seller Account
  • Discount rate 
  • Per item charges for credit card and electronic check transactions • Chargebacks

Seller or Online Seller

An individual or business that sells products or services and is capable of accepting payment for products and services via a Seller account.


A computer system that provides services to other computer systems over a network. Can be in the form of hardware or software. Performs coordination functions, administration, and access functions.

Settled Successfully

Transactions with this status have been approved and successfully submitted for settlement. The charge or refund has been applied against the appropriate payment method. No further action may be taken against successfully settled transactions.


The process of transferring funds for sales and credits between Acquirers and Issuers, including the final debiting of a Cardholder’s account and crediting a Seller’s account.

Settlement Amount

The transaction amount sent to the processor for settlement. This is the amount that will appear as a charge or refund against the specified method of payment. This amount may be less than or equal to the original authorization amount for the transaction.

Settlement Date Time

This date indicates the date/time on which a transaction was submitted for settlement. Only transactions that have been successfully settled will contain a settlement date.

Settlement Error

Transactions with this status have experienced an error during processing. These transactions have not been successfully settled.

Shopping Cart

Software that allows visitors to an internet site to buy from that merchant.

SIC (Standard Industry Codes)

Special numbers assigned by the Card Associations to Seller types for identification and tracking purposes. MasterCard uses MCC (Seller Category Code), while Visa uses SIC (Standard Industry Codes).

Smart Card

Plastic card containing a computer chip with memory capabilities. Also known as a chip or EMV card.

Submit Date Time

The date and time that a transaction is entered into the system. This also coincides with the date/time that a transaction is authorized.


The process of translating a credit card number into a random sequence of numbers as a method of encryption, to enhance credit card security during a transaction.

Transaction Fee

A per item fee charged to the merchant by the acquirer for transaction activity such as sales, credit/returns, batch closures, third-party services, etc.

Transaction ID (Trans ID)

Each transaction within the system is assigned a unique transaction ID. This ID may be used to sort or identify specific transactions within the system.

Transaction Status

Each transaction within the system is given a unique status value to indicate the current processing state. A transaction status provides summary information regarding the state and subsequent actions that may be performed against a transaction. The following values may appear in the transaction status field: Authorized/ Pending Capture, Captured/Pending Settlement, Credit/ Pending Settlement, Declined, Voided, Credited, General Error, Communication Error, Settled Successfully, Under Review, Review Failed.

Transaction Type

This value indicates the type of transaction entered and actions that may be associated with the transaction.


Transactions between a merchant and a cardholder for the sale or rental of goods; the provision of services evidenced by a sales draft or credit draft, or where permitted by agreement between Global Payments and merchant, or by an electronic equivalent of a sales draft or credit draft, which is presented to Global Payments by the merchant for processing through the interchange systems.

Unauthorized Transaction

Any sale for which a Cardholder does not provide his/her specific authorization. (This should not be confused with the failure to receive an authorization response from the Issuer.)

Under Review

Transactions with this status are currently being reviewed before being submitted for processing.

Universal Cardholder Authentication Field (UCAF)

Developed by MasterCard for use in their SecureCode payment initiative, UCAF is a universal, multipurpose data transport mechanism implemented by merchants and acquirers for collecting authentication information generated by issuers and cardholders. Once collected, this information is communicated to the issuer in the payment authorization request and provides explicit evidence that the transaction was originated by a legitimate cardholder.

Verified by Visa®

This is a program offered by Visa to increase security and reduce fraud on internet-initiated purchases. One of the 3-D Secure protocols. The merchant’s website interfaces with Visa to obtain the specified fields at the time of purchase. These values are then submitted with the authorization request to verify that this is an authentic cardholder purchase.


Connects financial institutions, merchants and governments around the world with credit, debit and prepaid products.


Transactions with this status have been marked as Void within the application. Transactions with this status will not be sent for settlement.


Digital wallets allow consumers to shop online and pay using a wallet system, rather than entering a credit card for each purchase. Wallets typically use a user name and PIN or other security device to authenticate the buyer.


Allows individuals to run their website off hosted server space, by providing internet connectivity through a data center.

3-D Secure

The name for a group of protocols designed as an additional security layer for online credit and debit card transactions. Each of the major credit cards has its own versions of the 3-D Secure protocols.