PCI Assessment

NDB Advisory Common PCI Language in Understanding the Term Acquirer

Common PCI Language in Understanding the Term Acquirer

As with any relatively new compliance mandate, PCI being no different, there's always vagueness that can surround terms, phrases, and other important issues. Regarding PCI compliance, the term acquirer can be a number of different entities, and this is based purely on the complexities of the payments industry as a whole. For example, an acquirer is generally seen as the bank or entity that the merchant uses to process their payment card transactions.  In essence, the acquirer receives authorization requests from merchants, and then forwards the request to the issuing entity (issuing entity is the financial institution that issued the card) for approval. 

Thus, an acquirer provides authorization, clearing, and settlement services to merchants. Furthermore, the termacquirer may also de defined as an ISO, which is commonly looked upon as an agent of a bank. Moreover, in certain markets, the actual payment brands themselves (American Express, Discover, and JCB, but NEVER VISA or MasterCard) can actually be the acquirer.

Acquirers are responsible for merchant compliance, that is, they ensure that their merchants are aware of PCI DSS compliance by tracking and mandating compliance on them.  Additionally, acquirers “manage” merchant communications, are responsible for providing merchant status to the various payment brands, and also can incur any liabilities as a result of non-compliance for their merchants.

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