Industry Terms: Capture

May 22, 2012

This is the latest installment in The Official Merchant Services Blog’s Knowledge Base effort. Well we want to make the payment processing industry’s terms and buzzwords clear. We want to remove any and all confusion merchants might have about how the industry works. Host Merchant Services promises: the company delivers personal service and clarity. So we’re going to take some time to explain how everything works. This ongoing series is where we define industry related terms and slowly build up a knowledge base and as we get more and more of these completed, we’ll collect them in our resource archive for quick and easy access. Today’s term is:


Capture is a specific action during the payment process. It refers to receiving and storing transaction data at the processor’s host computer, to be submitted later for processing and payment. A typical capture process supports the asynchronous nature of payments by performing the capture of the payment for an order in a background process.

The definition of what happens during payment capture varies by payment type and by the implementation of that payment. Some examples are as follows:

  • A credit card using batch processing for deposits: In this case, no financial transaction takes place at the time of capture; but rather, the captured amount is placed in a batch that will be settled at a later time. The purpose of using batches is to reduce transaction fees.
  • A credit card not using batch processing: In this case, a settlement would occur as the result of the capture.
  • A check: The implementation supporting BankServ ACH protocol supplied with WebSphere Commerce Payments deposits the check at authorization time. Other implementations may deposit the check at this point.
  • Line of credit: The accounts receivable record would be added and the amount remaining on the line of credit would be updated accordingly.
  • Offline payment method: The capture would be recorded and potentially placed in batch for later settlement if batches are supported.

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