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About International Payment Systems

Boaz Gam

Boaz Gam


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7 min

Features Of Electronic Payment Systems And How They Work.

Article content
  1. Electronic Payment System - What Is It?
  2. What Are International Payment Systems and How Do They Work?
  3. Main Payment Systems and Features of Online Payment System
  4. Which Payment System to Choose

Every individual and business entity these days has dealt with at least one international payment system (IPS). Yet, even though it is something used daily by millions of people, not many can explain what exactly this term entails.

This guide contains practical information on international payment systems that will help you understand how they work and which one is best for your personal use.

Electronic Payment System - What Is It?

Before delving into the subject of international payment systems, it’s important to talk about a more general term that encompasses them.

Electronic payment systems, or e-payment systems, enable people worldwide to pay for goods and services digitally. Common methods of e-payments include:

  • Internet banking
  • E-wallets
  • Gift cards
  • Credit and debit cards

Speaking of the latter, bank cards are the most popular e-payment method in the world. In 2021, there were approximately 25.2 billion credit, debit, and prepaid cards in use globally, and this figure is expected to increase up to 30.6 billion by 20251.

That’s where international payment systems come in. This term refers to any payment card schemes that power debit and credit card transactions - more on this below.

Source: https://salfordcab.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/credit-card.jpg

What Are International Payment Systems and How Do They Work?

Features Of Electronic Payment Systems And How They Work.

International payment systems are global networks that provide plastic card holders, trade and service enterprises, and financial and government institutions in different countries with access to fast, secure, and reliable electronic financial transactions.

These networks develop general rules and determine a specific sequence of technical procedures for conducting transactions to ensure that the exchange of data and funds between the merchants and consumers is successful.

The main revenue stream of international payment systems comes from the contributions of banks participating in the network and is proportionate to the volume of card transactions processed.

In general, international payment systems perform the following functions:

  • Releasing licenses for issuing cards with the card scheme’s logo;
  • Protecting patents and rights;
  • Developing standards and protocols for financial operations;
  • Ensuring the proper functioning of national and international automation and calculation systems;
  • Monitoring financial information and commission payments transfers of system participants;
  • Research and analysis activities;
  • Development of new payment products and solutions;
  • Marketing, advertising, and promotion of the products.

Among the external operational functions performed by international payment systems for their members is authorization, that is, obtaining a transaction permit from the issuing bank if the purchase amount exceeds the one-time limit or if the merchant has doubts about the identity of the client and the legality of their card use.

Another weighty function of an IPS is the organization of final settlement and repayment of debts for card transactions.

Main Payment Systems and Features of Online Payment System

The status of an international payment system is obtained if the network provides an opportunity for individuals and organizations to conduct transactions on the territories of most countries across the globe.

To do this, the international payment system must include operators from different countries. Their role is usually performed by the heading government banks. Some of the most famous international payment systems are:

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • UnionPay International (UPI)
  • JCB

While the main task of any IPS is to ensure settlement operations between merchants and buyers who pay with bank cards, they also have an obligation to issue cash to cardholders in traditional forms at financial institutions and ATMs.

Three of the leading international payment systems are VISA, Mastercard, and UPI. The first two are US-based multinational corporations, while the third network originates from China. In 2019, UPI accounted for 45% of purchase volumes worldwide, followed by Visa with 27% and Mastercard with 18% of the global share2.

Let’s take a look at the key IPS players in more detail:


Features Of Electronic Payment Systems And How They Work.

Visa is one of the biggest international payment systems. Here are some important things to know about it:

  • It is at the top rating of the global payment industry market in terms of annual turnover. The total financial turnover through Visa cards is $10.4 trillion, up by 18% since 20213.
  • Today, Visa is one of the leading developers of cashless payment technologies. It is used by more than 16 thousand enterprises. The system's partners provide fast and secure payments in 200 countries around the world.
  • All the transactions of this IPS are carried out using the innovative Visa Net network that authorizes purchases and is capable of processing tens of thousands of payments per second.
  • Visa’s main currency of operations is the US dollar.
  • This card scheme is one of the authors of the international EMV standard, alongside Mastercard and other European partners. These guidelines define the current procedure for conducting card transactions.
  • Visa offers its users a huge selection of payment products and services, including all traditional types of cards and a convenient money transfer service.

Source: https://www.visa.com.ru/partner-with-us/payment-technology/visa-b2b-connect.html


Mastercard is an international corporation with its head office in the USA. Here’s some information you need to know about it:

  • There are approximately 22,000 financial structures and tech companies partnering with this card scheme across 210 countries.
  • There were nearly 1.3 billion Mastercard credit cards in circulation globally in Q4 of 20214.
  • Since 1968, Mastercard has been closely cooperating with the Eurocard group of European banks. This explains the choice of the Euro as the main one in the company's strategy.
  • The corporation offers its customers a huge selection of debit, credit, and prepaid cards.
  • This card scheme was one of the first companies to introduce contactless mobile payments for POS terminals.
  • It is most beneficial to use Mastercard cards in Europe and Africa.

American Express

This US company, founded in 1850 in New York, is one of the first international payment systems out there. Here are some facts about this card scheme:

  • Currently, the American Express payment system offers customers a wide range of settlement, credit, and prepaid products, including microprocessor cards.
  • American Express cards are most in-demand in the US and Canada.
  • The company is mainly targeting wealthy people who are fond of traveling.
  • These cards are classified into several categories, among which Centurion is the most elite due to an extensive list of unique services.
  • Plastic cards of this system are accepted in more than 160 countries and territories internationally.

UnionPay International (UPI)

UPI is a subsidiary of China UnionPay, the main purpose of which is to support the growth of the card scheme’s global operations. Some important details about it are:

  • UPI has partnerships with more than 2400 financial institutions around the world and enables consumers to use cards to pay for goods/services and withdraw cash in 180 countries5
  • UPI cards are issued in more than 70 countries.
  • This card scheme ranks first in the international settlement market in terms of the number of cards issued (over 190 million units).
  • Union Pay conducts the majority of internal payments with processing operators in dollars.


The Japanese payment system JCB, formerly known as Japan Credit Bureau, was founded in 1961 and ranks among the top five major international payment systems. Some characteristics of JCB are:

  • The company offers debit, credit, and prepaid cards in 23 countries.
  • The total number of contracts signed with retail outlets exceeds 30 million.
  • There are more than 141 million JCB cardholders 6.
  • JCB cardholders can enjoy various privileges, such as discounts in online stores and cafes and bonuses for traveling to Europe, Japan, and some other Asian regions.

Which Payment System to Choose

All in all, the largest payment systems that control the biggest shares of the international market are Visa, Mastercard, and UPI. Their main advantages are a huge reception infrastructure, the ability to make cross-border payments, and an excellent brand reputation.

The operational principles of these payment systems are very similar, so account holders would not face major differences when it comes to aspects like data exchange, authentication procedures, risk management, encryption techniques, regulatory standards, and so on.

The choice between the systems fully depends on subjective consumer preferences, their lifestyle and spending habits, and the offers that local financial institutions have.

With Which Payment Systems Should Merchants Partner?

When it comes to merchants, it’s highly recommendable to cooperate with as many international payment systems as possible to be able to cater to the vast majority of potential customers.

With Payneteasy’s Fintegrate solution, you will be able to unify multiple payment service providers under one smart and convenient cashier system. It will enable you to effectively accept e-commerce, m-commerce, and alternative payment methods. Connect any wallets and payment systems and process transactions in various currencies seamlessly in a PCI DSS-certified environment.

Reach out to us today to transform the way you accept and process payments!

1 - Statista - Number of credit, debit and prepaid cards in circulation worldwide
2 - Payments, Cards, and Mobile - UnionPay accounts for 45% of global cards spending
3 - Visa - Fiscal Year 2021 Key Statistics
4 - Statista - Number of Mastercard credit cards in the United States and worldwide
5 - PYMNTS - China’s UnionPay Provides Tuition Refunds To International Students Studying In Australia
6 - JCB - JCB expands partnership with Nets Group to grow JCB Contactless acceptance in the Nordics

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