A merchant account provider is a third-party vendor that enables a merchant to accept and process consumer payments via debit and credit cards.
Brands and retailers that aren’t equipped to let consumers pay for products with debit or credit cards risk losing business to their digitally transformed competitors. A merchant account provider is a third-party financial software company that can enable a merchant to offer these payment options to customers.
The merchant account provider serves as a bridge between the consumer, the consumer’s card-issuing bank, and the merchant. They facilitate transactions between these parties by handling the authorization, processing, and financing of payments.
They differ from payment gateway providers in that they don’t authorize the payment directly, but rather facilitate transactions between the merchant and the issuing bank to complete the payment.
Most merchant account providers also offer ancillary services, such as point-of-sale (POS) systems, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, mobile card readers, data collection services, and more.