The average consumer using a credit card may not realize just how competitive the credit card processing industry is for major players behind the scenes. While most credit card users understand the basics of credit card processing; the business of transferring money from one hand to another remains somewhat of a mystery for the average consumer. The inner workings of the credit card processing industry may seem unimportant if you are not a merchant or one of the parties involved in making credit card transactions possible, however anyone using a credit card should understand how the processing works as it affects card users as well.
Credit Card Networks
To better understand how credit card processing works, one must first identify the parties involved in the process. On one end you have a credit card user who initiates the transaction. By choosing to use your credit card, you authorize the movement of funds from the bank issuing your credit card to the merchant providing a product or service. Connecting these two are card networks and credit card processors. Card networks like Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express have long held control over credit card processing. Now, as the industry faces new changes, control over credit card processing may become even more competitive.
New Players Change Industry
Already widely used in other nations, near field communication technology will change the way credit cards are processed. In coming years, the way in which you use your credit card will change dramatically. The introduction of smartphones and technology allowing credit card users to simply wave their cell phone in front of a reader opens the door to new players in the industry. Traditional credit card processing will likely be affected as more companies, businesses and credit card processing parties join the industry. Although many anticipate a great ease of use for credit card users and merchants, there is always the chance of negative results as well. If changes in the industry create additional costs for merchants, the possibility is there to see costs passed onto consumers. This may affect all consumers if the cost of goods and services rise as a result. On a positive note, with more competition within the industry, there is also a chance that the cost of credit card processing may actually decrease. If this is the case, merchants who currently avoid credit card transactions due to high processing fees may make the switch to accepting credit cards.
Adjusting To Change
To fully understand how changes in the industry will affect you, it is important to pay attention to how and when these changes will take place. Card users are encouraged to read card agreements and any news relating to the use of smartphones or near field communication. Security will remain a priority for all those involved with the processing of credit cards to ensure these changes do not open up the window for fraud and unauthorized use of consumer credit card accounts. Meanwhile, credit card processors and other parties involved in the processing of payments must prepare increased competition in the industry and how it will impact business models.