A payment service provider (PSP) offers shops online services for accepting electronic payments by a variety of payment methods including credit card, bank-based payments such as direct debit, bank transfer, and real-time bank transfer based on online banking. Typically, they use a software as a service model and form a single payment gateway for their clients (merchants) to multiple payment methods.
Typically, a PSP can connect to multiple acquiring banks, card, and payment networks. In many cases, the PSP will fully manage these technical connections, relationships with the external network, and bank accounts. This makes the merchant less dependent on financial institutions and free from the task of establishing these connections directly, especially when operating internationally. Furthermore, by negotiating bulk deals they can often offer cheaper fees.
Furthermore, a full-service PSP can offer risk management services for card and bank based payments, transaction payment matching, reporting, fund remittance and fraud protection in addition to multi-currency functionality and services. Some PSPs provide services to process other next generation methods (payment systems) including cash payments, wallets, prepaid cards or vouchers, and even paper or e-check processing.
A PSP is thus a much broader term than a payment gateway which is how the payment card industry refers to them.
PSP fees are typically levied in one of two ways: as a percentage of each transaction or a fixed cost per transaction.
US-based on-line payment service providers are supervised by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (or FinCEN), a bureau of the United States Department of the Treasury that collects and analyzes information about financial transactions in order to combat money laundering, terrorist financiers, and other financial crimes.
There are more than 900 payment providers in the world. More than 300 offer services for Europe and North-America.