The VU number, the contract company number, is used to identify a credit card acceptance contract. This is what enables customers to pay for goods by credit card in the first place. The merchant concludes the contract with the acquirer, a bank or contracting company commissioned by a credit card company to hand over the acceptance contracts. The acquirer also assigns the Merchant Number to the merchant.
The VU number – link between merchant and payment service provider
The VU number is necessary so that the merchant can request the payment service provider to submit a transaction to the credit card company. The identification ensures that each payment is assigned to the correct company that accepts the corresponding credit card. So, for example, if a payment is made by Visa card, the VU number, similar to a customer number, serves to identify the credit acceptance agreement for that type of credit card. In most cases, VU numbers are assigned that are valid for VISA/Mastercard in combination.
Apply for VU number
The VU number is a basic requirement for payment or its submission. The number must be requested from an acquirer and is usually sent by mail. Depending on the system used, the number must then be activated by the payment service provider. In general, it should be noted that the contract company number should first be applied before concluding contracts with interfaces and payment service providers. If the allocation is rejected, the conclusion of the contract can usually not be reversed. Whether costs are incurred for issuing the VU number depends on the acquirer’s terms and conditions. When selecting a payment provider, a German merchant is not limited to Germany. The number can be requested from any provider within the European Union.
Merchant number for online use
Depending on the planned area of use, VU numbers are assigned for different purposes. If customers are to be able to pay for online purchases by credit card, the VU number must also be Internet- and mail-order-enabled. In addition to contract company numbers for e-commerce, numbers are assigned for offline sales with hardware terminals. For certain products, it is very difficult to apply for a contract company number. For example, many acquirers refuse to issue contract company numbers for sectors such as erotica, singles exchanges or gambling and lottery sites, as these are high-risk products. Intermediaries with good contacts to payment providers inside and outside Germany can help you find the right provider.
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