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Created on 15.07.2022 | Updated on 14.08.2023

Put it simply, please! What exactly is acquiring?

In-store or online, the more payment options you offer, the better. Many people reach for their debit or credit card at the checkout. As a retailer, accepting these payment methods won’t work without a company that handles the process known as acquiring. But what exactly is acquiring and how does it work?

Your customer wants to pay by card. You and your company accept electronic payment methods. But to do this, you need a third party to handle the payment process. You and this company have contractually agreed the procedure. This company is the acquirer, i.e. the party responsible for the acquisition of the card acceptor.

Acquiring – what it’s all about

The acquirer ensures the proper processing and forwarding of transactions, and credits the appropriate amount to your account. The acquirer is responsible for ensuring everything runs smoothly and securely.

One goal of acquiring is to further increase acceptance of electronic payment methods. So in the truest sense of the word, the acquirer manages the acquiring.

The acquirer bears the risks

When you enable your customers to pay by card, the acquirer takes responsibility for the entire payment process. Usually, participating financial institutions must ensure that the amount debited from the customer’s card account is delivered safely and securely to the retailer.

How the payment process works

  1. Customer pays by card: a customer has chosen a product or service and wants to pay by card in the checkout area, in-store or online.
  2. Acquiring process starts: in most cases, a request is sent via the physical or virtual checkout infrastructure to the acquirer, who is your and your company’s contractual partner. The acquirer forwards the request to the relevant card institution. From the card number, the card institution identifies the card issuer and forwards the request and/or the transaction to them. The issuer is the financial institution that issued the bank card.
  3. Issuer becomes active: the issuer (financial institution) verifies and processes the transaction. The card owner’s account is debited. The card institution is then informed.
  4. Transaction reaches the retailer: the card institution confirms the transaction to the acquirer. This in turn is forwarded to the retailer’s checkout infrastructure.
  5. Verification process is complete: the verification process is now complete. The retailer now has the payment guarantee and delivers the product or provides the service that has been paid for.

What are the costs involved in acquiring?

The acquirer charges you an amount for each transaction that covers the expenses of all parties involved in the value chain. An exception here is the fee charged by a payment service provider (PSP), if you are active in e-commerce. The fee can be a fixed sum per transaction, a specified percentage of the amount or a mix of the two.

Not all acquirers are the same

In Switzerland there is a range of acquirers. There are differences in the cost structures or in the selection of card types they accept. Some financial institutions are active on the market as both acquirers and issuers – this is the case with PostFinance, for example.

PostFinance – one provider for many payment solutions

PostFinance offers payment solutions for face-to-face and distance selling that support different acceptance partners.

  • Checkout Flex: This is a flexible payment service provider solution for your online shop that can be supplemented with a payment terminal for in-store sales. Payment methods, functions and terminals can be configured according to your needs. More information can be found at The link will open in a new window Checkout Flex.
  • Cashless payments at points of sale: EFT/POS (electronic funds transfer at the point of sale) allows your customers to make convenient, quick cashless payments at your points of sale. This helps you reduce the cash you deal with and increases the safety of your business due to the lower amount of cash you have on the premises. Find out more at The link will open in a new window EFT/POS.
  • Checkout All-in-one: A module that can be integrated quickly and easily into your online shop.
  • PostFinance payment methods: the PostFinance Card and e-finance offer your customers secure and reliable payment methods in your online shop without the risk of customers becoming overdrawn.

To activate the individual payment methods, you need a separate contract with the respective acceptance partner for each payment method. In-store sales require one contract per location and payment method.

PostFinance automatically arranges the contract request for you online in Checkout Flex onboarding. The amount of time it takes to activate the payment method depends on the respective acceptance partner and cannot be influenced by PostFinance.

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