Here’s What Happens When You Swipe Your Card To Make A Purchase

Have you ever wondered what happens when you pay at the counter with a mere swipe, tap or wave of a card? Curve’s here, as always, to simplify finance as we guide you through a breakdown of the process that goes on behind the scenes… 

1. Swipe Card for Approval 

When you swipe your card through the card reader, the magnetic strip on the back of the card gives your identification details. The card reader sends these details electronically to the ‘acquirer’, the bank in charge of making credit card payments for your credit card account. Communications are sent either through the phone line or the internet, so if you’ve ever heard the screeching and static from a restaurant’s credit card terminal, now you know what’s up…

2. Authorisation Process

The acquirer moves the payment and account details to the credit card issuer for authorisation and, so long as you have credit, the issuer sends approval back to the acquirer then back to the merchant. This is when you see the ‘approved’ message on the card reader and you’re good to go! 

3. Payment Batching 

Whilst you’ve long left the shop with your purchases in hand, the merchant’s work is still not done. She stores all the credit card payments that have come in that day and submits them together to the acquirer at the end of the day, a process called ‘batching’. 

4. Credit Card Issuer Sends Payment

The acquirer then moves the payments through the process based on authorisation at point of sale. They send transaction information on to the ‘card network’ or credit card association (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover), which then directs transaction information to the correct credit card issuer to get payment. 

 5. Where Curve Comes In…

With Curve there’s an extra step. Mastercard or Visa sends the transaction to Curve’s processor and then onto Curve, the issuer of the card, for approval.

here's what happens when you swipe your credit card bank card or curve card

6. The Merchant Gets Paid

Once the financial data is received from the card network, it sends the electronic funding for the transaction back to the merchant. The merchant can now ‘capture’ and gets the money to pay for your purchase. The time from swipe to final funding is typically 24 to 48 hours!

7. Curve’s Added Fraud Protection

Whilst the transaction is processing, we also send the details to our fraud engine to make sure we’re completely cool with the merchant, the transaction and that your card is only being used by you. And this all happens in one second!

DID YOU KNOW?: ‘Incorrect PIN entry’ causes about 30% of transactions to be declined, followed by insufficient funds, which causes about a quarter of transaction failures. With Curve, you only need to remember one pin for access to all your cards! There’s no need to carry a wallet, we’ve created one very simple card that puts all your finances in one very smart place. You can track your spending with real time notifications, so why not download the Curve app and sync your existing credit cards and bank cards? You’ll never be caught out at the card machine again!