A four-party system describes a payment system (usually a card payment system) with the following four parties:
- the payer (often referred to as the cardholder),
- the payee (often referred to as the merchant),
- the payer’s payment service provider (often referred to as the issuer) and
- the payee’s payment service provider (often referred to as the acquirer).
In addition to these four parties there is often also a system operator. The most commonly known four-party systems are the payment systems offered by MasterCard and Visa.