Comprehensive Payment Processing Guides
This is a collection of guides to help you navigate the world of payment processing for businesses, large or small. You’ll find links to resources on accepting debit and credit card payments, choosing a payment processor, setting up a merchant account, and more – all the details you’ll need to determine the services you want and the rates your business can afford.
What You'll Discover Below
What Is Payment Processing?
Any payment that doesn’t involve cash or paper checks is a form of payment processing. This includes debit and credit card payments, e-checks, electronic benefits transfer (EBT) and electronic money transfer (EMT) payments, and online money transfers. If you intend to accept any of these types of payments at your business, you’ll need to use a payment processing service of some kind.
What is a Payment Processor?
You may have noticed that although payments are approved or declined within seconds it can take several days to receive funds. That’s because payment processing involves approvals and communication between merchants, card networks, and the banks that issue payment cards to consumers. A payment processor assists with this communication and helps make the entire operation run smoothly—and, of course, they take their cut from the processing fees you’ll pay along the way.
Note that there are only a handful of true payment processors—big companies like Worldpay and Elavon. Most service providers you’ll encounter are smaller companies that resell the services of payment processors, often at discounted rates, which include payment service providers (PSPs) and independent sales organizations (ISOs). Popular payment service providers include Paypal, Stripe, and Square.