An Acquirer, also known as a merchant acquirer or acquiring bank, is a financial institution that maintains accounts for merchants, receives all bankcard transactions, and initiates the process of transferring the funds to the merchants.

In simple terms, they act as an intermediary between merchants and card networks, enabling businesses to accept card-based payments from their customers.

Acquirers are responsible for several essential functions in the payments process, including the following:

  • process credit and debit card transactions
  • handle chargebacks
  • manage risk
  • ensure compliance with card networks and regulatory standards

They also often provide other services to merchants, such as payment terminals, online payment gateways, and other point-of-sale systems.

Acquirers have relationships with both merchants and card networks, such as Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express. They are responsible for ensuring that merchants meet the requirements set by these card networks.

They also represent merchants in the card networks’ dispute resolution processes. In essence, acquirers play a critical role in maintaining the smooth operation of the electronic payments ecosystem.