In the context of credit card merchant accounts, an acquirer refers to a financial institution or a payment processor that enters into an agreement with a merchant to process credit card transactions on their behalf. The acquirer is responsible for facilitating the authorization, settlement, and funding of these transactions. The term is often used as a short term which coulds define 'merchant bank', 'acquiring bank', and 'acquiring financial institution'.
When a customer makes a purchase using a credit card at a merchant's establishment, the acquirer plays a crucial role in the transaction process. The acquirer receives the transaction details from the merchant and forwards them to the appropriate card networks (such as Visa, Mastercard, or American Express) for authorization. Once the transaction is authorized, the acquirer settles the funds from the customer's card issuer and deposits the money into the merchant's account.
Acquirers typically charge fees to merchants for their services, including transaction fees and discount rates. They also assume the risk associated with processing credit card transactions, such as chargebacks or fraudulent activities, and provide support and assistance to merchants in managing these issues.
In summary, the acquirer acts as an intermediary between the merchant, the cardholder, and the card networks, facilitating the processing of credit card transactions and ensuring the smooth flow of funds from the customer to the merchant.