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A glossary of vital electronic payments terms.

Credit Card Glossary

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Access Control

The process of ensuring that systems are only accessed by those authorized to do so, and only in a manner for which they have been authorized.

Account Number

A unique number assigned by a financial institution to a customer. On a credit card, this number is embossed and encoded on the plastic card.

Acquirer

A bank or company that acquires data relating to transactions from a merchant or card acceptor for processing.

Acquiring Bank

A bank that receives the credit card transactions and then settles with the issuing banks. Bank that signs up/enables the merchant to process transactions.

Address Verification Service (AVS)

A method of reducing fraud in mail order/telephone order transactions by using cardholder billing address information in the authorization request.

American Express

A financial organization that issues their own charge and credit cards. American Express also performs their own transaction processing within their own processing network.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

American National Standards Institute – The organization that issues standards in the US.

Application Program Interface (API)

Application Program Interface.

Application Layer

The layer of the ISO Reference Model which provides communication between applications.

Application Security

The provision of security services within user applications running above the Application Layer of the ISO model.

Approval Response

An authorization response received when a transaction is approved.

American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII)

American Standard Code for Information Interchange – The standard system for representing letters and symbols. Each letter or symbol is assigned a unique number between 0 and 127.

Authentication

The process of assuring that data has come from its claimed source, or of corroborating the claimed identity of a communicating party.

Authorization

The act of ensuring that the cardholder has adequate funds available against their line of credit. A positive authorization results in an authorization code being generated and those funds being set aside. The cardholder’s available credit limit is then reduced by the authorized amount. (Also see Request Auth.)

Authorization (or Authorized) Amount

Dollar amount approved. Authorization Code A code that an issuer or its authorizing processor provides to indicate approval or denial for an authorization request.

Authorization Date

Date and time that transaction was authorized.

Authorization Only

A transaction created to reserve an amount against a credit card’s available limit for intended purchases; the settlement may occur within three to five days, depending on the card type.

Authorized Amount

Dollar amount approved.

Authorized Transactions

Transaction that has been approved.

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Bank Account

Bank account number for the merchant to which funds will be deposited.

Bank Identification Number (BIN)

The first six digits of a Visa or MasterCard account number. This number is used to identify the card issuing institution.

Bankcard

A payment card issued by a bank.

BIN

See Bank Identification Number.

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Card Issuer

Any association member financial institution, bank, credit union or company that issues, or causes to be issued, plastic cards to cardholders.

Card Reader

A device capable of reading the encoding on plastic cards. See Magnetic Stripe Reader.

Cardholder

An individual to whom a card is issued, or who is authorized to use an issued card.

Certificate

A digital identifier linking an entity and a trusted third party able to confirm the entity’s identity

Certification Authority (CA)

A trusted entity issuing certificates confirming the identity of, or given facts associated with, the certificate’s subject.

Chargeback

A transaction returned through interchange by an issuer to an acquirer. A transaction may be returned of non-compliant with the association rules and regulations or because it was disputed by a cardholder.

Chargeback Period

The number of days from the processing date or endorsement date transaction during which the issuer may initiate a chargeback.

Commerce Service Provider (CSP)

Supplies the system and services to establish the back-office infrastructure for businesses. Major aspects include: the processing of secure transactions, the development and management of customer relationships, the collecting of payment, and the delivery of products or services over the web. A CSP may provide the following services: buyer authentication, order taking, details of what is for sale in an electronic offer, validation, payment processing (via traditional credit card payment processors), and generation of electronic receipts. Fulfillment may be made of electronic goods or physical goods. See also electronic commerce.

Commercial Cards

A general name for cards typically issued for business use and may include corporate cards, purchase cards, business cards, travel and entertainment cards.

Cookie

A small amount of information stored on a client computer by a website that is sent back to the site each time the user visits it. The purpose of cookies is to maintain persistent, client-side state information which significantly extends the capabilities of web-based client/server applications.

Credit Card Number

Unique number assigned to credit card.

Credit Card Processor

A company that performs authorization and settlement of credit card payments, usually handling several types of credit and payment cards (such as Visa, MasterCard, and American Express). If merchants wish to sell their products to cardholders, they retain the services of one or more processors who handle the credit cards that the merchant wishes to accept. When a merchant retains the services of a credit card processor, it is issued a merchant ID.

Credit Limit

The dollar amount assigned to a cardholder to which they are approved to borrow.

Certificate Revocation List (CRL)

A certificate revocation list. A database of certificates no longer valid within a given security infrastructure.

Cryptographic Key

A mathematical term or other parameter used to define how a given algorithm will transform data into ciphertext.

Cryptography

The art or science of transforming clear, meaningful information into an enciphered, unintelligible form using an algorithm and a key.

Currency

Default is USD for U.S. dollars. This feature will be used when non-U.S. dollars are used in a transaction.

Custom Payment Service (CPS)

Visa’s regulations for the information that must be submitted with each transaction. Transactions must meet CPS criteria in order to qualify for lowest transaction processing fees available. Similar to MasterCard’s Merit system.

Customer Code

A 17 character alphanumeric field that is used with purchase card transactions. The code is typically defined by the customer (cardholder) and used for accounting or project tracking purposes.

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Dun & Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (D & B Duns Number)

Dun & Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System. A unique 9-digit code that identifies and links more than 57 million companies worldwide.

Data Capture

Also known as electronic draft capture (EDC) or draft capture. A data processing term for collecting, formatting, and storing data in computer memory according to predefined fields, for example, customer name, account number and dollar amount of purchase. When a terminal reads this information from a plastic card or from entries at a terminal, the information is stored in computer memory for later output as a hard copy printout or as soft copy on a CRT display. See Electronic Draft Capture.

Data Encryption Standard (DES)

A cryptographic algorithm adopted by the National Bureau of Standards for data security. The algorithm encrypts or decrypts 64 bits of data using a 56-bit key. See also Triple DES.

Data Integrity

Measures to prevent unauthorized alteration of data.

Debit

A charge to a customer’s bankcard account. A transaction, such as a check, automated teller machine (ATM) withdrawal or point-of-sale (POS) debit purchase that debits a demand deposit account.

Deciphering

Conversion of ciphertext back into plaintext.

Decryption

Decryption is the process of transforming ciphertext back into plaintext. It is the reverse of encryption.

Deposit

Process of transmitting a batch of transactions from the merchant to the acquiring institution in preparation for settlement.

Data Encryption Standard (DES)

Data Encryption Standard. A cryptographic algorithm adopted by the National Bureau of Standards for data security. The algorithm encrypts or decrypts 64 bits of data using a 56-bit key. See also Triple DES.

Digital Signature

A data element allowing the recipient of a message or transaction to verify the content and sender.

Discount Fee

Fee paid by the merchant to the merchant bank or other contracted party for processing the merchant’s credit card sales (transactions).

Discount Rate

This is the percentage rate that a merchant institution charges the merchant giving deposit credit for handling merchant sales drafts or electronic sales transmissions. The discount fee is the dollar amount charged.

Draft Capture

The act of electronically capturing transactions. See Electronic Draft Capture.

Digital Signature Algorithm

The algorithm used in creating the digital signature for a given message or transaction.

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Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

The process conducting business electronically using a set of standardized forms and data formatting.

Electronic Authorization

Obtaining authorization for use of a credit card by electronic means, as via computer equipment and telephone line.

Electronic Commerce

A system of integrated communications, data management, and security services that allow business applications within different organizations to automatically interchange information.

Electronic Draft Capture (EDC)

EDC is a point-of-sale terminal that reads the information encoded in the magnetic stripe of bankcards. These terminals electronically authorize and capture transaction data, eliminating the need for a paper deposit.

Enciphering

Conversion of plain data into encrypted data (plaintext into ciphertext).

Encryption

The process of disguising a message (using mathematical formulas called algorithms) in such a way as to hide its substance – a process of creating secret writing.

Encryption Key

When used in the context of encryption, a series of numbers which are used by an encryption algorithm to transform plaintext data into encrypted (ciphertext) data, and vice versa.

End-to-end Security

Application of security measures consistently across a whole data system or process, leaving no weak points.

Expired Card

A card on which the embossed, encoded or printed expiration date has passed.

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Floor Limit

An amount that Visa and MasterCard have established for single transactions at specific types of merchant outlets and branches, above which authorization is required.

Fraudulent Transaction

A transaction unauthorized by the cardholder of a bankcard. Such transactions are categorized as lost, stolen, not received, issued on a fraudulent application, counterfeit, fraudulent processing of transactions, account takeover, or other fraudulent conditions as defined by the card company or the member company.

Fraudulent User

An individual who is not the cardholder or designee and who uses a card (or, in a mail/phone order or recurring transaction, an account number) to obtain goods or services without the cardholder’s consent.

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Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)

HTTP is a client/server protocol for delivering hypertext material across an internet. HTTP is stateless: when a client makes multiple requests to a single HTTP server, each request is treated independently. HTTP servers do not remember the earlier requests. The stateless protocol allows HTTP servers to respond to requests quickly.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol – Secure (HTTPS)

A variant of HTTP for handling secure transactions. Browsers that support the URL access method, “https”, connect to HTTP servers using SSL. “https” is a unique protocol that is simply SSL underneath HTTP. Use “https://” for HTTP URLs with SSL and “http://” for HTTP URLs without SSL. The default “https” port number is 443.

Hyperlink

An active cross-reference from one resource to another. The cross-reference is called active because it is presented in a medium which allows the reader to follow it, for example by mouse-clicking it. A reader can follow hyperlinks in an HTML document using a web browser, navigate through online help or follow hyperlinks between terms defined in a glossary.

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Independent Service Organization (ISO)

In the payment systems industry, a third-party organization that facilitates merchant registration to accept charge or credit cards.

Interchange

The exchange of information, transaction data and money among banks. Interchange systems are managed by Visa and MasterCard associations according to their requirements and are very standardized so banks and merchants worldwide can use them.

Interchange Fee

A fee paid by the acquiring bank/merchant bank to the issuing bank. The fee compensates the issuer for the time after settlement with the acquiring bank/merchant bank and before it recoups the settlement value from the cardholder.

Interchange Reimbursement Fee

One of the following: A fee that an acquirer pays to an issuer in the clearing and settlement of an interchange transaction, based on either the standard (paper-based) rate or electronic rate. A fee that an issuer pays to an acquirer for making a cash disbursement to a cardholder or check purchaser.

Internet

A global public network consisting of millions of interconnected computers all linked together using the Internet Protocol.

Issuer

Any association member financial institution, bank, credit union, or company that issues, or causes to be issued, plastic cards to cardholders.

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Key

When used in the context of encryption, a series of numbers which are used by an encryption algorithm to transform plaintext data into encrypted (ciphertext) data, and vice versa.

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Level 3

Level-3 Data specification designed to support business-to-business and business-to-government credit card use. Level-3 line item detail provides specific purchase information such as item description, quantity, unit of measure, price and more. This information is useful to cardholding organizations to streamline accounting and business practices and to merge payment data with electronic procurement systems. (Also known as Level-3, Level III or Level-III).

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Magnetic Stripe

A stripe of magnetic information affixed to the back of a plastic credit or debit card. It contains customer and account information required to complete electronic financial transactions. The physical and magnetic characteristics of this stripe are specified in the International Organization for Standardization standards 7810, 7811 and 7813.

Magnetic-stripe Reader

A device that reads information from the magnetic stripe and transmits that information to a transaction processor or computer terminal. Also referred to as card reader.

Magnetic-stripe Terminal

A terminal that reads the magnetic stripe on a plastic card.

Mail/phone Order Merchant

A merchant that transacts business by mail or phone.

Mail-Order / Telephone-Order Merchant (MO/TO)

A transaction where a cardholder orders goods or services from a merchant by telephone, mail or other means of telecommunication and neither the card nor the cardholder is present at the merchant outlet.

MasterCard

MasterCard International Inc., and all of its subsidiaries and affiliates.

MasterCard Acquirer

A member that signs a MasterCard merchant or disburses currency to a MasterCard cardholder in a cash disbursement, and directly or indirectly enters the resulting transaction receipt into interchange.

MasterCard Card

A card that bears the MasterCard symbol, enabling a MasterCard cardholder to obtain goods, services, or cash from a MasterCard merchant or an acquirer.

MasterCard Issuer

A member that issues MasterCard cards.

Merchant

An entity that contracts with merchant banks or ISO’s to originate transactions.

Merchant Agreement

A written agreement between a merchant and a bank containing their respective rights, duties and warranties with respect to acceptance of the bankcard and matters related to the bankcard activity.

Merchant Bank

Bank that has a merchant agreement with a merchant to accept (acquire) deposits generated by bankcard transactions.

Merchant Category Code

Four-digit classification codes used in the warning bulletin, authorization, clearing and settlement systems to identify the type of merchant business in various stages of transaction processing.

Merchant Depository Account

Demand deposit account established by a merchant with the acquiring bank to receive payment for sales drafts submitted to the bank card plan.

Merchant ID

In the credit card industry, a merchant ID is a number provided to a merchant by a credit card processor when that merchant retains the services of that processor. Also sometimes called the merchant number.

Merchant Number

A series or group of digits that uniquely identifies the merchant to the merchant signing bank for account and billing purposes.

Merit

MasterCard’s requirements for obtaining favorable interchange rates. Similar to CPS requirements by Visa.

Multiple Transaction Processing (Multi-Trans)

Electronic communications process where multiple authorization requests and responses are exchanged during a single phone connection with the third-party transaction processor.

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North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code

Common industry definitions for Canada, Mexico and the United States. This system is replacing the SIC Code system.

Non-repudiation

Cryptographic assurance that a message sender cannot later deny sending a message, or that the recipient cannot deny receipt.

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Online Financial Transaction

A transaction that is authorized, cleared and settled in a single online message.

On-us Transaction

A transaction in which the issuer and the acquirer are the same. An “on-us” check would be one in which a depositor’s check is presented for payment at the same financial institution that carries the account on which the check is written.

Open To Buy Amount

Dollar amount of credit remaining for customer at the time of authorization.

Order Number

A 17-character alphanumeric field that may be used between the cardholder and the merchant for accounting or tracking purposes.

Over-limit

This refers to a cardholder’s account that has surpassed its credit limit with a transaction. (Their outstanding balance is beyond their credit limit.)

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Paper Draft

Sales slips, credit slips, cash disbursement slips, drafts, vouchers and other obligations indicating use of a card or a card account.

Password

A sequence of characters which allows users access to a system. Although they are supposed to be unique, experience has shown that most people’s choices are highly insecure. Humans tend to choose short words such as names, which are easy to guess.

Per Transaction Fees

Fees paid by the merchant to the merchant bank or other contracted party on a per transaction basis.

Personal Identification Number (PIN)

A sequence of digits used to verify the identity of the holder of a token. It is a kind of password.

Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)

The total system used in verifying, enrolling and certifying users of a security application.

Plaintext

Data before the application of a cryptographic algorithm.

Plastic (Card)

This is a generic term used to identify any of the various cards issued to cardholders.

Point Of Sale (POS)

Location in a merchant establishment at which the sale is consummated by payment for goods or services received.

Policy

An informal, generally natural language description of desired system behavior. Policies may be defined for particular requirements, such as confidentiality, integrity, availability, safety, etc.

Point-of-Sale System

A system that processes commercial transactions such as a credit card terminal, electronic cash register, or specialized software.

Posting

The process of updating individual cardholder account balances to reflect merchandise sales, instant cash, cash advances, adjustments, payments and any other charges or credits.

Presentment

A clearing record that an acquirer presents to an issuer through interchange, either initially (a first presentment) or after a chargeback (a re-presentment).

Primary Account Number (PAN)

The number that is embossed, encoded, or both, on a plastic card which identifies the issuer and the particular cardholder account.

Prior Authorization

An authorization usually done before a transaction takes place. The approved authorization request may be held for an extended length of time before a card is present or not.

Private Key

A cryptographic key known only to the user, employed in public key cryptography in decrypting or signing information.

Processing Date

The date on which the transaction is processed by the acquiring bank.

Public Key

A cryptographic key which is used for data encryption and which cannot be used for decryption. Public keys can be freely published.

Public Key Cryptography

A form of asymmetric encryption where all parties possess a pair of keys, one private and one public, for use in encryption and digital signing of data.

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Receipt

A hard copy document recording a transaction that took place at the point-of-sale, with a description that usually includes: date, merchant name/location, primary account number, amount and reference number.

Recurring Billing

Transactions for which a cardholder grants permission to the merchant to periodically charge his account number for recurring goods or services.

Reference Number

Number assigned to each monetary transaction in a descriptive billing system. Each reference number is printed on the monthly statement to aid in retrieval of the document, should it be questioned by the cardholder.

Refund

Created credit to a cardholder account, usually as a result of a product return or correction of error.

Regulation E

Electronic Funds Transfers – Establishes the rights, liabilities, and responsibilities of parties in electronic funds transfers and protects consumers when they use such systems.

Regulation Z

Truth in Lending – Prescribes uniform methods for computing the cost of credit, for disclosing credit terms, and for resolving errors on certain types of credit accounts. This federal regulation governs all aspects concerning credit cards. It pertains to the issuer and cardholder, as well as any organization involved in the processing of credit cards.

Request Auth

Submits a transaction for Authorization Only. (See Authorization)

Retail Merchant

A merchant that provides goods and/or services in the retail industry, but is not a mail/phone merchant, a recurring services merchant or a T&E merchant.

Retrieval Request

An issuer’s request for a transaction receipt, which could include the original, a paper copy or facsimile, or an electronic version thereof.

Reversal

An online financial transaction used to negate or cancel a transaction that has been sent through interchange in error.

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Sales Draft

A paper record evidencing the purchase of goods or services by a cardholder.

Settlement

The reporting of settlement amounts owed by one member to another, or to a card issuing concern, as a result of clearing. This is the actual buying and selling of transactions between the merchants, processors and acquirers, along with the card issuing entities.

Settlement Bank

A bank, including a correspondent or intermediary bank, that is both located in the country where a member’s settlement currency is the local currency and authorized to execute settlement of interchange on behalf of the member or the member’s bank.

Standard Industry Classification (SIC) Code

A system used to categorize businesses by industry group. This system is being replaced by the NAICS Coding system.

Smart Card

A plastic card containing a computer chip with memory and CPU capabilities. Such a card may be used for identification, to store information or financial amounts, or other forms of data. Also called an integrated circuit card or a chip card.

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)

An encryption standard devised by Netscape Communications for secure communication over the World Wide Web.

Standard Floor Limit

A floor limit that varies by merchant type. This refers to a dollar limit on transactions above which authorization requests are required.

Statement

A written record prepared by a financial institution, usually once a month, listing all transactions for an account, including deposits, withdrawals, checks, electronic transfers, fees and other charges and interest credited or earned. The statement is usually mailed to the customer.

Stored-value Card

A stored-value card is a credit card-sized device, implanted with a computer chip with stored money value. A reloadable stored-value card can be reused by transferring value to it from an automated teller machine or other device. A disposable card cannot be reloaded.

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Travel and Entertainment (T & E) Merchant

An airline, car rental company or hotel whose primary function is to provide travel-related services. A travel agency (excluding one that is primarily engaged in the sale of transportation or travel-related arrangement services by mail/phone order) is a T&E merchant to the extent that it acts as the agent of an airline, car rental company or hotel.

Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP / IP)

A standard format for transmitting data from one computer to another. TCP deals with the construction of the data. IP routes the data from one computer to another.

Terminal ID

In the payment card industry, a number provided to a merchant by a credit card processor when that merchant retains the services of that credit card processor to uniquely identify a terminal. Also sometimes called the terminal number. A credit card processor may assign several terminal IDs to a given merchant’s terminals although that merchant has a single merchant ID with that processor.

Third-party Transaction Processor

An entity that validates and authorizes credit card purchases. They may also service the actual accounts on behalf of the issuers, emboss cards and mail cards to cardholders.

Transaction

(1) any agreement between two or more parties that establishes a legal obligation. (2) the act of carrying out such an obligation. (3) all activities that effect a deposit account that are performed at the request of the account holder. (4) All events that cause some change in the assets, liabilities or net worth of a business. (5) Action between a cardholder and a merchant or a cardholder and a member that results in activity on the cardholder account.

Transaction Identifier

A unique 15-character value that VISA assigns to each transaction and returns to the acquirer in the authorization response. VISA uses this value to maintain an audit trail throughout the life cycle of the transaction and all related transactions, such as reversals, adjustments, confirmations and chargebacks.

Transaction Processor

An entity that validates and authorizes credit card purchases. They may also service the actual accounts on behalf of the issuers, emboss cards and mail cards to cardholders.

Transaction Type

A specific type of financial detail transaction activity that can be submitted to the clearing system.

Triple DES (DES3)

A data encryption algorithm based on DES in which information is processed through the DES algorithm three times.

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Universal Standard Product and Service Classification (UN/SPSC) Code

A global commodity standard – 10 digit, hierarchical code used to consistently classify products and services.

Unbundled Fees

Other fees paid by the merchant to the merchant bank or other contracted party for transaction processing.

Uniform Commercial Code (UCC)

A set of business-related laws dealing with the sale of goods, their transportation and delivery, financing, storage, payments and various other commercial transactions. These model laws have been adopted, with minor modifications, by most states to provide some consistency among states’ commercial laws. They were drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.

Uniform Commercial Code Article 4A (UCC 4A)

Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) is a comprehensive body of state law governing commercial transactions. Article 4A covers certain funds transfers, including ACH credit transactions not subject to the Electronic Funds Transfer Act.

User Authentication

Process of validating that a user is who the user represents himself/herself as.

User ID

The identity of the person authorized to log on to the system.

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Validation Code

A unique 4-character value that VISA includes as part of the CPS/ATM program in each authorization response to ensure that key authorization fields are preserved in the clearing or settlement record.

Visa

Visa International Service Association and all of its subsidiaries and affiliates.

Visa Acquirer

A member that signs a Visa merchant or disburses currency to a Visa cardholder in a cash disbursement, and directly or indirectly enters the resulting transaction receipt into interchange.

Visa Card

A card that bears the Visa symbol, enabling a Visa cardholder to obtain goods, services, or cash from a Visa merchant or an acquirer.

Visa Issuer

A member that issues Visa Cards.

Visa Merchant

A merchant that displays the Visa symbol and accepts all Visa cards.

Visanet

The systems and services, including the V.I.P. system and BASE II, through which Visa delivers online financial processing, authorization, clearing and settlement services to members.

Voice Authorization

An approval response obtained through interactive communication between an issuer and an acquirer, their authorizing processors, or stand-in processing, through telephone, facsimile, or telex communications.

Void Transaction

Delete the transaction information.

Void or Voided

Nullifies a transaction that has been recorded for settlement, but not yet settled. This removes the transaction from the batch of transactions to be settled.

 

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