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Merchant Acquiring Business Model Taxonomy

In this research note, Mercator examines the various roles performed by companies involved in merchant payment acquiring and categorizes acquirers within seven basic business models. We discuss the traditional notion of "acquirer," and offer a broader definition that encompasses more business models than just that of an "acquiring bank." As a chain of indemnification may pass liability for a merchant contract from the sponsoring institution all the way down to the agent level, in some cases, and anywhere in between, the question naturally arises of who exactly is acquiring the merchant's transaction.