Payment systems are a set of common rules and procedures that support the transfer of funds between people, businesses, and financial institutions. Most payment systems are managed by operators, and supported by one or more providers of hardware, software, and communication network infrastructure. Some financial institutions have direct access to each payment system and provide payment services to their customers. Not all accounts are held at the same payment service provider, so when a customer makes a payment to a business that has an account with a different provider, the customer’s provider owes the business’s provider the value of the payment. This creates a level of risk, so a payment system needs to use an intermediary, known as a settlement agent, for the final settlement of funds between providers.

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