We make payments happen in more than 210 countries and territories

Mastercard® is more than the brand you see on your card. We’re the technology making payments happen around the clock. In fact, we operate the world’s fastest payments network, processing transactions in more than 150 currencies.

The Mastercard Network 

As a processor, Mastercard operates the world's fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses making their payment experience:

  • Consistent, knowing payments will be accepted and guaranteed virtually anywhere in the world. 

  • Reliable, ensuring payments will be managed quickly, seamlessly and accurately. 

  • Secure, knowing payment data is protected under the strictest compliance guidelines. Protecting information is a MasterKey® priority at Mastercard.

  • Valuable, allowing them to take advantage of unique value-added payment programs. 

When Mastercard processes Mastercard branded transactions between financial institutions through the Mastercard Network, we authorize, clear and settle the transaction, making sure the transaction is valid, funds are available and accounts are credited and debited appropriately. Switching with Mastercard opens the door to our wealth of value-added payment processing services that help financial institutions and merchants effectively leverage payment technology to manage their businesses.

Intelligent architecture

The network features an intelligent architecture that adapts to the needs of each transaction by blending two distinct processing structures — distributed (peer-to-peer) and centralized (hub-and-spoke). For example, for transactions that require:

Fast processing — think contactless card or a device at a toll booth — we can use the distributed structure, ensuring these transactions are processed close to where the payment occurred.

Value-added processing — such as real-time access to transaction data for fraud scoring — we can use the centralized processing structure, which ensures advanced processing services are applied to the transaction. 

Extended processing

Mastercard offers end-to-end processing products and solutions. For example, we offer debit and prepaid issuers a processing platform designed to help create differentiated products and services. And e-commerce merchants can benefit from a single interface that provides the ability to process secure payments and offer value-added solutions.

Making every transaction more valuable for our customers

               

The transaction process

There are four parties to each transaction in addition to Mastercard — a cardholder, a merchant, an issuer and an acquirer.

Step 1: The customer pays with Mastercard
The customer purchases goods/services from a merchant.

Step 2: The payment is authenticated
The merchant point-of-sale system captures the customer’s account information and securely sends it to the acquirer.

Step 3: The transaction is submitted
The merchant acquirer asks Mastercard to get an authorization from the customer’s issuing bank.

Step 4: Authorization is requested
Mastercard submits the transaction to the issuer for authorization.

Step 5: Authorization response
The issuing bank authorizes the transaction and routes the response back to the merchant.

Step 6: Merchant payment
The issuing bank routes the payment to the merchant’s acquirer, who deposits the payment into the merchant’s account.