The cardholder is the person that actually has the payment card. They are going to purchase goods either through a “Card-Present”, or a “Card Not Present” transaction.
The issuer is the bank or other organization that issues that payment card on behalf of the payment brand or directly by the payment brand. Visa and MasterCard do not issue cards. Their cards are always issued through a bank or other organization. American Express, Discover, and JCB International will issue cards directly, and will also acquire those transactions as they are part of a closed-loop network. Visa and MasterCard support an open-loop network because they neither issue cards nor provide authorization.
Merchants are the organizations accepting payment, usually in exchange for goods or services.
Acquirers are often known by a number of different names. They can be referred to as a bank, a merchant bank, a processor, or an independent sales organization (ISO). In the case of American Express, Discover, and JCB International, acquirers can also be the payment brands themselves. Ultimately, the acquirer is the bank or other en