MSP Definition

Merchant Account MSP Explained:

What is an MSP? “MSP” stands for “MasterCard Service Provider” and is a formal designation that companies must have in order to resell MasterCard Credit Card Processing under their own company names. MasterCard displays its registered and approved MSPs on the MasterCard Service Provider List and merchants are advised to only work with registered MSPs. Visa has a similar certification called an “ISO.”

MSPs represent an Acquiring Bank, or Processor, or both. MSPs are also allowed to set terms of their own merchant account contracts and mark up processing rates and fees. Although a Processor can also be an MSP, most MSPs are solely sales organizations that act as “middle men” that pair point-of-sale solutions (terminals, payment gateways, mobile accessories, etc.) with merchant account providers and processors.

Phillip Parker is a former merchant services sales agent who believes the industry has been overrun by people who engage in fraud and deception in order to steal from hard working business owners. He created this website to help you avoid the bad players, save money on fees, and to get peace of mind with your merchant account. If you would like to help support his work, learn more about our cost reduction service. We can evaluate your statement, tell you exactly how much you're overpaying, and then help you dramatically reduce your fees with your current credit card processor. Looking to switch instead? See our list of the best merchant account providers.

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  1. Thomas says:


    I have been researching entry into the payment processing industry. My company would like to be positioned as close as possible to the card industry networks. Although it is difficult to find clearly detailed information on the subject, it appears impossible to contract directly with MasterCard or Visa. It looks like you have to be sponsored by a financial institution. This confuses me. Outside of the card networks and the sponsor bank, what role does the ISO perform in payment processing besides providing the merchant with payment card equipment?

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