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Merchant Acquiring: Understand E-Commerce Payment Processing


10 min read

Undoubtedly, we’ve all experienced the sheer convenience of ordering products online and effortlessly swiping our cards at the favorite stores — simple and efficient, isn’t it?

Today, we live in a world that elevates the customer experience and holds immense benefits for businesses — the realm of payment acquiring.

Merchant services that handle payments within the United States have the potential to generate significant revenue growth in the next five years. McKinsey’s analysis of card transactions shows that facilitating commerce and improving payment performance are key drivers for achieving this growth. It’s estimated that this growth could make up around 80 percent of the total increase in revenue.

If your business revolves around sales, whether in e-commerce or with a physical store, and you’re committed to providing your customers with a seamless shopping experience, understanding the ins and outs of acquiring is paramount. This partnership simplifies your payment processes for products and services, smoothing your business journey. 

Over the last five years, I acquired valuable experience and skills in the development field, with a primary focus on e-commerce, particularly on Amazon. Consequently, as an expert with a bunch of knowledge, I am eager to share all the deep insights into the inner workings of e-commerce businesses with you.

While collaborating with merchant acquiring bank is critical for e-commerce businesses worldwide, it carries particular significance in developing regions, such as the MENA (Middle East and North Africa). If you’re a merchant with a business there, this article is especially tailored to your needs. DashDevs, your trusted fintech partner, is here to help you understand the importance of acquiring and guide you in your quest for the ideal acquiring partner.

In this article, I’ll demystify the concept of acquiring:

  • Why it’s a critical asset for your business.
  • How it operates and where to find the ideal acquiring partner.
  • Whether you can receive the support needed to simplify this journey.

What Is an Acquiring Bank?

Merchant acquirers are financial institutions that help merchants accept diverse card payments from their clients both online and through the terminal. The terms ‘credit card acquirer’ or ‘acquirer bank’ are also sometimes used to refer to these institutions. The primary players in this process are the seller, the customer, and the acquiring bank. 

These institutions have authorization from Card Schemes to process transactions. By partnering with an acquirer bank, merchants can process and take control of their clients’ credit and debit card payments.

Flow of Payment from Customer to Merchant

If you are planning to run an e-commerce business and receive online payments through your website, selecting a payment processor is just the first step. The next crucial step is to ensure that you are meeting all the necessary requirements as a merchant and adhering to regulatory obligations imposed by the chosen payment processor. You will also need to sign a two-sided contract to ensure that there are no monetary issues in the future and that you have complete access to your earnings.

The Role of the Acquirer in Payment Processing

Imagine the acquirer as the middle point for all debit and credit card transactions. They act as the bridge between credit associations and businesses, ensuring that all the money is transferred and received smoothly.

As a pivotal player in this process, an acquiring bank manages transactions and prioritizes security. They take full control over the transaction process on your behalf, employing the latest security systems and ever-evolving technology.

Since online and debit card transactions inherently carry fraud risks and potential data breaches, every acquiring bank adheres to strict guidelines set by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

If a fraud or data breach occurs, the acquiring bank takes responsibility for any breached transactions that may have happened, minimizing the impact on the affected parties.

Ready to Enhance Your Payment Processing?
Discover the Benefits of Acquiring with DashDevs

Additional Services Offered by Acquirers

A credit card transaction usually goes through swiftly and without complications. However, there are instances where challenges arise, such as:

  • chargebacks 
  • disputes 
  • requests for additional payment information 

When certain situations arise, the company receiving payment takes charge to handle them. Sometimes, they may require the merchant to pay for related costs.

For instance, in the case of a chargeback, the acquiring bank may charge a per-transaction fee from you to regulate the situation.

Why Acquiring is Essential for Your Business

As businesses compete to stay ahead in the fast-paced world of commerce, they continuously look for ways to distinguish themselves. Payment-acquiring services can be the key to achieving this. Here, you can explore why acquiring is essential for your business and how it can elevate your operations.

1. Enhancing the Customer Experience

It’s no secret that today’s consumers expect seamless, convenient, and secure payment options. Acquiring services streamline the transactions, offering customers a hassle-free checkout process.

The Middle East is a region believed to prefer cash, but in the UAE, the volume of digital consumer payments increased by over 9 percent every year from 2014 to 2019. To put it in perspective, this growth outpaced Europe’s typical annual increase, which usually hovers around 4 to 5 percent. Now, if you think that’s impressive, let’s talk about Saudi Arabia. There, card payments skyrocketed with an incredible 70 percent surge between February 2019 and January 2020. It’s clear that digital payments are on the rise in the region, especially in Saudi Arabia.

To cater to tech-savvy customers and keep up with the evolving payment landscape, businesses must integrate acquiring solutions into their operations to accept online payments. This integration enables customers to choose from various payment methods, allowing them to pay in their preferred way, ultimately leading to greater convenience, trust, and loyalty. As a result, the overall shopping experience is enhanced.

Consider accepting digital payment service to improve your accounts receivable operations. By making this switch, you’ll be able to provide your customers with a better experience while also improving cash flow.

E-commerce Marketplace and Fintech Specialists: Top Partners for Merchants

You can streamline your processes by moving away from paper checks. To explore credit card processing options in more detail, I recommend contacting the DashDevs team of experts. We can provide the technical knowledge and support you need to make informed decisions.

2. Data-Driven Decision Making

In the digital age, data is king. Acquiring services provide invaluable insights into your business’s financial health and customer behavior. The more you know your customer—the more insights you have to make informed decisions, drive growth, and optimize your operations.

By harnessing data, you can:

  • refine your marketing strategies
  • tailor your offerings to meet customer demands
  • identify growth opportunities

Your business can benefit significantly from this data as it acts like a compass that guides you toward achieving higher levels of efficiency and profitability.

Selecting the right partner in the domain of payment acquiring is crucial to ensure the success of your business. It is not merely about choosing any acquiring service provider but finding a partner who shares your vision and can provide your business with the required solutions. To this end, careful consideration and evaluation of prospective partners is essential.

How to Evaluate Acquiring Service Providers and Choose the Right One

Choosing the right acquiring partner is critical in optimizing your business’s payment processes. It’s like finding the perfect collaborator in your business journey. Here are some key details to look out for in potential acquirers to ensure a smooth partnership:

1. Integration Compatibility

When it comes to your chosen payment gateway, compatibility is critical. The implications are straightforward:

  • If the acquirer works with your selected gateway, you’re all set.
  • If not, you have two options
  1. Seek another gateway that the acquirer supports.
  2. Opt for an acquirer that integrates with your current gateway.

2. Supported Cards and Payment Methods

For businesses aiming to offer customers a range of payment options, it’s vital to understand the card types, schemes, and payment methods the acquirer supports:

  • Card types: Including credit and debit cards.
  • Card schemes: Such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and others.
  • Payment methods: Covering popular options like Apple Pay, MobilePay, and Samsung Pay.

This ensures that your customers can conveniently pay using their preferred methods.

3. Locations and Currencies Support

Ensure the acquirer ticks all the right boxes:

  • Verify that the acquirer operates in the country where your business is registered.
  • Check if the acquirer supports the countries you intend to sell in.
  • Consider the currencies you plan to accept from customers.

Example Scenarios:

  • A UK merchant looking to do business in the UK, Denmark, and Germany must ensure the acquirer covers all these countries.
  • A Danish merchant selling in Denmark, Switzerland, and Belgium should ensure the acquirer supports all three countries and transactions in different currencies.

4. Transparent Fee Structure

Transparency in pricing is crucial. Seek a clear breakdown of costs, including:

  • Sign-up/application cost.
  • Setup and monthly fees.
  • Transaction fees, with distinctions for authorization, capture, and different card types.
  • Refund and payout/settlement fees.
  • Currency conversion and other business model-related fees.
  • Chargeback/dispute fees and transaction limits.

5. Anti-Fraud and Special Features

Security and data management are paramount. Find out if the acquirer provides anti-fraud measures like 3-D Secure is crucial, especially in light of PSD2 regulations. Additionally, consider acquirers that provide automated account reconciliation for streamlined accounting.

Example Scenario:

If you, as a merchant, need to track fees and funding for accurate accounting, automated account reconciliation can subtract fees and reveal your exact earnings. This is vital, especially if your accounting system integrates with the acquirer, making accounting more accessible.

6. Customer Support and Security

Choose an acquirer with robust customer support available via various channels such as phone and email, mainly if they operate internationally.

7. PCI DSS Compliance and Regulation

Ensure the acquirer meets the highest security standards:

  • Full compliance with PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard).
  • Financial regulation by a Financial Supervisory Authority.

8. Settlement Periods

Settlement periods, or the time it takes to receive funds, vary. Consider the frequency that best suits your business model:

  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly

9. Recurring Transaction Support

For businesses with subscription-based models, choose an acquirer with a well-developed API to support recurring transactions efficiently.

10. Client Recommendations

Seek inspiration and validation by researching company cases that describe their relationship with the acquirer. Ask for examples of companies the acquirer collaborates with to gain insight into their reliability.

Why DashDevs: Your Trusted Acquiring Ally

At DashDevs, we understand the importance of investing in acquiring services today. We’ve been at the forefront of the industry, working with businesses to create seamless payment processes. Our experience, including our involvement in the iOL Pay project, is a testament to our expertise and commitment to excellence.

Illusions Online’s subsidiary, iOL Pay, operates from Dubai and is a powerful player in the global hotel industry. The company caters to over 23,000 hotels within the travel and tourism sector worldwide.

A client approached us with a vision ​​— they wanted all their services crowded into one user-friendly platform. We were more than up for the challenge with our extensive experience in the fintech industry.

Together, we created a solution combining global payments, virtual cards, merchant wallets, remittances, and foreign exchange services into one platform. This has simplified things for businesses in the hospitality sector, making payment options easy and accessible.

Both sides’ main result and success is that iOL Pay now operates as a merchant of record, making payment processes smoother and more efficient. We also introduced a one-click booking feature that ensures secure payment transactions, providing a seamless experience for guests while hotel owners benefit from increased conversion rates. Thanks to our global integrations, iOL Pay’s clientele has not only saved significant costs but also said goodbye to manual processing. 

Ready to Elevate Your Online Sales?
Unlock the Potential of E-commerce with DashDevs

Merchant Acquiring Providers We Recommend

Here are the top 5 acquiring partners for e-commerce merchants, along with their services and fees:

1. Ayden

  • Services: Payment gateway, acquirer, and processor for online and brick-and-mortar businesses.
  • Features: Accepts over 200 payment methods in over 150 countries, suitable for multinational companies.
  • Fees: Specific pricing details are not available.

2. Trust Payments

  • Services: Online payment, in-store POS, card-not-present, and mobile solutions.
  • Features: Provides a merchant account and payment platform, supports over 160 payment methods and 150 currencies, and acts as a single entry point to over 50 banks worldwide.
  • Fees: Transaction fees for in-person processing are available on request. Gateway fees depend on card turnover.


  • Services: End-to-end payment gateway, risk engine, transaction processing, and acquiring services for eCommerce.
  • Features: Offers direct local acquiring in major markets, supports debit and credit cards in 47 countries in 150+ currencies, and provides advanced transaction-level data analytics.
  • Fees: Pricing is based on the Interchange++ model, with no setup fees or account maintenance fees.

4. Mollie

  • Services: Online payment processing with a focus on simplifying financial services.
  • Features: Accepts customer payments from significant payment methods and provides seamless checkout, integrations, flexible financing, and strong security.
  • Fees: Payment gateway fees range from 1.2% to 2.9% plus a fixed fee, with specific fees for each payment method.

5. Total Processing

  • Services: Tailored online and in-store payment solutions for merchants across multiple regions.
  • Features: Offers access to more than 198 alternative payment methods, flexible pricing for card terminals, and the ability to connect to a network of 300 merchant acquirers worldwide.
  • Fees: Flexible pricing for card terminals and payment gateways based on business needs.

Summing Up 

Expanding your business globally can be challenging, especially when venturing into emerging markets. However, armed with the right strategies and insights, you can navigate this complex terrain successfully. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be well-prepared to extend your operations worldwide. 

At DashDevs, we’re committed to assisting businesses like yours in reaching new horizons, including the MENA region. With our expertise and tailored solutions, you can conquer the global stage and overcome common obstacles.

Are you ready to take your business to the next level and explore opportunities in Europe, the UK, the USA, the Middle East, the MENA region, and beyond? Contact our team of experts to learn more about expanding your global footprint and embark on this exciting journey together.

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Table of contents
How Merchant Acquiring Works?
When a client makes a payment at a store, the merchant acquirer retrieves thier card details from the payment processing machine. Then, it forwards these details to the customer's card issuer (customer's bank). Once the issuer gives the approval, the payment is authorized, and the transaction flow goes through. The ultimate goal of merchant acquirers is to ensure that clients' card payments go smoothly and without hassle.
What is the Difference between Acquiring and Issuing Bank?
In the payment world, there are two key institutions: acquiring bank vs issuing bank. The issuing bank is the one that provides a client with a card. They make a small percentage from every transaction as their reward. But that's not all they do. They also watch for suspicious transactions and check if a person has enough money for their purchases. On the other side, we have the acquiring bank (or merchants bank). They handle the money part, ensuring the merchant gets their money from the customer. If the merchant proves untrustworthy or goes bankrupt, leaving a client stranded, the acquiring bank will intervene and ensure that a customer receives a refund. For new businesses with a limited track record, obtaining a merchant account can take time and effort. Within the realm of payment processing, establishing trust is paramount.
What is the Payment Processor?
Payment processors act as intermediates between banks and card networks (VISA, MasterCard, etc.). They facilitate the smooth execution of transactions by ensuring seamless communication between the parties involved. Although they do not directly handle money, payment processors ensure that the payment process is secure and efficient. However, the term "payment processor" can be somewhat ambiguous as it is also used to refer to those who assist in transferring funds to merchants. Payments processor often collaborates with acquirers responsible for receiving funds from the credit card networks and ensuring merchants are paid for their products or services. Acquirers play the role of a traffic manager, ensuring that the payment process runs smoothly, whether or not they are involved in the technical aspects of the process. Ultimately, the goal is to maintain a payment system that is efficient, secure, and transparent.