Multiple payment cards on top of each other

Used by global players in payments

Trust Payments logo
Nuvei logo
Absa logo
LPB Bank logo
eCardon Payments logo


New to the payments industry? We have answers to common questions.

What is a merchant?

A merchant is a company that sells goods or services to consumers or other businesses. When a merchant wants access to card payments for their business, they apply for it with an acquiring bank, payment service provider, or similar institution. This means they must fill out an extensive application form that asks for key data like the merchant's address, directors, company registration, ultimate beneficial owner, and more. The other party will then underwrite the merchant during the onboarding process.

What is merchant underwriting?

For acquiring banks and payment service providers, underwriting means investigating a merchant and their websites for signs of fraud, non-compliance with card scheme rules or local regulations, and other risk factors. It traditionally involves reviewing all data provided in the merchant application. Merchant underwriting takes place during the merchant onboarding process and culminates in accepting or declining a merchant application.

What is an acquiring bank?

An acquirer enables merchants to accept payments from buyers, providing assurance that they will receive payment for the goods, services, or currency, provided they have followed the correct procedures. To accomplish this, acquirers employ a combination of risk management, IT infrastructure, and customer service operations. Risk management takes precedence due to the potential implications for their business, reputation, and financial results if an acquirer fails to accurately assess their risk exposure. Payment service providers (PSPs) and payment facilitators differ from acquiring banks in many ways, but from a merchant perspective, they occupy a similar spot in the payments ecosystem.

What is the Business Risk Assessment and Mitigation program (BRAM)?

Launched in 2005, the BRAM program is designed to protect Mastercard and its customers from illegal and brand-damaging transactions which may pose significant fraud, regulatory and legal risk or cause reputational damage. It is one of the two main rule sets our solutions and underwriters work with.

What is the Visa Integrity Risk Program (VIRP)?

In 2023, the Visa Integrity Risk Program replaced the Global Brand Protection Program (GBPP). The program formalises the rights and responsibilities of both Visa and connected acquiring banks around high-integrity risk merchants and illegal transactions. Among other obligations, acquirers must register merchants in specific sectors with Visa before signing them. It is one of the two main rule sets our solutions and underwriters work with.

What is a Merchant Monitoring Service Provider (MMSP)?

Web Shield is an official Mastercard Merchant Monitoring Service Provider. That means that Mastercard Principal Members can expect mitigation for penalties by Mastercard resulting from non-compliance issues.

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