Learn about what a merchant account is and why you need one to accept online credit card transactions. Anyone who wants to accept credit cards online will require a merchant account.
What is a Merchant Account?
In order to accept credit payments through a website, various interlinked components are required. There exists, in essence, three touch stones between a bank account and that of a paying clients. These include:
- The payment gateway: Essentially a code that transmits a customer's order, the payment gateway allows anyone to accept a customer's unique billing information (credit card number, expiration date, payment amount, etc.).
- The internet merchant account: This is a merchant account which allows anyone to accept credit card payments from the customer via a financial institution or bank.
- The website: It is absolutely imperative that the website is integrated with the service providers in order to ensure smooth transactions.
The merchant agreement typically contains the respective rights, warranties and duties with regard to accepting bank cards like Visa or MasterCard. These duties often help to reduce fraud and buyer/seller misunderstanding.
Visa and MasterCard require that a website contains the following information:
- A complete description of the goods and services offered
- A return/refund policy
- Customer service contact details, including a physical address, electronic mail address, as well as telephone and/or fax numbers
- Transaction currency - e.g. South African Rand (this is limited to one currency per website)
- Export restrictions (if known)
- Delivery policy
- Country of domicile - e.g. South Africa
Please do not hesitate to make contact regarding any further queries about merchant accounts.