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Meet The Sopranos: Introducing The Merchant Account Mafia

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Amad Ebrahimi
Amad has worked in the eCommerce and online marketing world since 2002. He started as an eBay seller, then slowly graduated to building & marketing his own websites and consulting others to do the same. He founded Merchant Maverick out of frustration with all the misinformation and shady tactics that he encountered when trying to find a merchant account for his and his client's businesses. He's the man behind most of the merchant account reviews, and articles posted on Have any questions related to credit card processing? Talk to him.
Amad Ebrahimi
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    Ron Ray

    Dear MM: Simple, direct, and narratively inspired. Thank you.


      Would love for you to write out a flow chart or actual technical article on it. For some of us who are seasoned in fighting the insanity, it’s actually harder to follow with the analagies… for instance acquiring and issuing bank is hard to follow with your explanation

        tj reynia

        How thoughtful to lay out the players for us simpletons -or maybe it just me. You must be the head attorney for the prosecution. Thank you for your efforts.. its appreciated!

          Doug – your question comes with a huge answer, but in summary: V/MC are only an association, they have member banks that solicit their services, which the people that own the association are the banks. Many banks have ISOs, which some are VERY big to sell the services and use them as a sponsoring bank. FirstData owns a lot of subsidiaries and not only are they a processing platform, but they own an ISO as well (CSI). Dealing with FirstData directly may not be easily defined for they are so big and have so many companies under their umbrella. They are the gorilla of our industry and who said going with the biggest company is a good idea? Their own ISO is CardService (CSI). You can deal with them or any one of their thousands of ISOs. The difference would be the service you receive, pricing, etc. Do not confuse this with ISO or providers that use FirstData as a processing platform. In that role, FD simply processes the data, they have nothing to do with the merchant account. It really does not matter who you go with in regards to obtaining the lowest cost. We all have the same Interchange cost and trying to eliminate some people in the food chain to reduce extra markup will not necessarily lower your cost as our industry has become super competitive as it is.


            Doug from Hsbg

            Cool article but again, left us w/o any answers. Why wouldn’t everyone simply deal w/ First Data directly?
            Secondly, why is it that the Assoc (visa and m/c have marketing arms, ISO’s?


              Hey that was a cool article its good to know who these guys are.. peace

                The Merchant Maverick


                Thanks for the kind words. Stay tuned for Part II.

                  tj reynia

                  love to read part II


                    Great freakin article guy! I actually have a better understanding of how this whole merchant account industry works and the players involved in it. Looking forward to part II of the saga. thx!

                      The Merchant Maverick

                      Thanks!! Ya, stay tuned. I might have to whack a couple guys in the next one.

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