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What is a merchant account and its purpose?


Question

What is a merchant account number associated with a payment gateway?

Answer

Merchant account number is a financial account with the unique ability to collect online payments made with cards (Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Discover, JCB, Union Pay or Diners Club). In order for a payment gateway to charge credit or debit cards online, the commerce needs to have a merchant account number.  

Merchant accounts can only charge cards and cannot receive wire transfers, make wire transfers, accept direct receipts or pay interest for having a deposit. 

The only banks allowed to open and provide the commerce with the merchant account are acquiring banks. Generally, acquirers and commercial banks are associated to facilitate the process of contracting the merchant accounts by customers.

As a general rule, when a commerce decides to start selling its goods or services online and heads to bank or IPSP, what he is looking for are 2 services: the payment gateway and a merchant number.

There are some acquiring banks that can provide merchant numbers without payment gateway. Generally they are given to companies with an impeccable credit history or companies with a financial license that offer payment services. 



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