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Book Review - The Field Guide to Global Payments

 ·  ☕ 5 min read


Title: The Field Guide to Global Payments

Author: Sophia Goldberg

How I learned about it: A post with resources to learn about payment systems, which I found commented on Hacker News

Would I recommend: Yes! This book is very easy to read, and with the table of initialisms I’m providing below, you will have easy reference to the 10000000000 new terms introduced in this book without having to create your own such list as you go. It’s not necessary to retain everything, but you’ll learn a lot just from reading it casually, and you can always come back to it again later if you want to study it in depth.

General comments

(Note: I read this book in May 2023 & wrote this review shortly after, but I didn’t get around to publishing it until now.)

The Field Guide to Global Payments is a great intro text to a sector of the economy that’s filled with a ton of terms (see the next section), processes, concepts, entities (see the next section), and ideas. It’s easy to read, clear, and not too long. I highly recommend reading it to anyone who likes to spend time on Hacker News or just to read the news as payments come up all the time, and you probably never noticed it before. Rather, maybe there were some random unfamiliar terms you didn’t notice, so your brain glossed over them, and you kept reading. After you read this book, you’ll be able to follow the conversation and perhaps even begin to have an opinion.

It’s certainly not a perfect book. Most importantly, there is no glossary of abbreviations. To that end, I have created one for you! The next section is an alphabetical table of initialisms. It contains the initialism, what it stands for (plus a link to Wikipedia if I could find one), and the first page number on which it’s discussed. Sometimes I put a second page number too, if it came up again much later in the text. Now you can have a glossary to refer to as you read the book, hooray! Feel free to print this up if you want, or open it on your phone so you can make use of the Wikipedia links.

Table of Initialisms

Yes, I’m someone who uses “initialism” and “acronym” non-interchangeably. Sorry.

Initialism Word Page(s)
3DS 3-D Secure 57
ACH Automated Clearing House 79, 182
AML Anti-Money Laundering 140
ATO Account TakeOver 154
AVS Address Verification Service 19
BACS Bankers’ Automated Clearing Services 180
BaFin Federal Financial Supervisors Authority (Germany) 135
BIN Bank Identification Number 22
BNPL Buy Now, Pay Later 91
CFPB Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 135, 147
CHIPS Clearing House Interbank Payment System 183
CIT/MIT Customer Initiated/Merchant Initiated 53, 149
CNP Card Not Present 53
COD Cash On Delivery 116
COF Card On File 149
CSBS Conference of State Banking Supervisors 139
CVC Card Verification Code 20
CVV Card Verification Value 20
DeFi Decentralized Finance 119
DMS Dual Message Transactions1 (as opposed to SMS) 55
DNH Do Not Honor 28
DPAN Device PAN (Primary Account Number) 111
ECP Excessive Chargeback Program 34
EEA European Economic Area 148
EMV Europay, Mastercard, Visa 56, 152
ETH Etherium 125
ERP Enterprise Resource Planning 181
FATF Financial Action Task Force 140
FANF Fixed Acquirer Network Fee (Visa) 64
FCA Financial Conduct Authority (UK) 135
FDIC Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation 142
FinCEN Financial Crimes Enforcement Network 142
FX Foreign Exchange 71
HPP Hosted Payments Page 19
ISO Independent Sales Organization 46
ITIN Individual Tax Identification Number 141
IVR Interactive Voice Response 144
KYB Know Your Business 174
KYB Know Your Customer 59, 174
LN Lightning Network 121
MAS Monetary Authority of Singapore 135
MCC Merchant Category Code 62, 149
MDR Merchant Discount Rate 96
MOTO Mail Order / Telephone Order 54
MTI Message Type Indicator 16
NACHA National Automated Clearing House Association 81
NFC Near Field Communication 109, 179
NSF Insufficient Funds 28
OCC Office of the Comptroller of the Currency 134, 142
OFAC Office Of Foreign Asset Control (USA) 59
PAN Primary Account Number 19
PCI Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI Compliant) 20
PDA Payment Distribution Agency 103
POS Point of Sale 13, 27
PSD2 Payment Services Directive 2 85, 147
PSP Payment Service Provider 12
QR Quick Response (as in QR Code) 105
RTP Real-Time Payments 80, 183
RTRP Real-Time Retail Payments 86
SCA Strong Customer Authentication 148
SCP Secure Corporate Payments 148
SEPA Single Euro Payments Area 82
SKU Stock-Keeping Unit 153
SMS Single Message Transactions1 (as opposed to DMS) 54
SWIFT Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications 70, 182
TPE Transaction Processing Excellence (Mastercard) 69
TPS Transactions Per Second 121
TRA Transaction Risk Analysis 148
UPI Unified Payments Interface (India) 180
VDMP Visa Dispute Monitoring Program 34


Whew, that was a lot of typing to make this table happen, so please read this book and find it useful. Okay thanks. And a call to action isn’t complete without a link, so once again The Field Guide to Global Payments.

  1. I don’t know why it says “Transactions” but there’s an S. I googled these terms, “SMS” and “DMS” along with “payments” and found nothing, so I’m not sure what’s going on, but the book clearly states “SMS” and “DMS” on pages 54 and 55, along with “Transactions.” ↩︎ ↩︎

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