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A payment is the transfer of wealth from one party (such as a person or company) to another. A payment is usually made in exchange for the provision of goods, services or both, or to fulfill a legal obligation.
The simplest and oldest form of payment is barter, the exchange of one good or service for another. In the modern world, common means of payment by an individual include money, check, debit, credit, or bank transfer, and in trade such payments are frequently preceded by an invoice or result in a receipt. However, there are no arbitrary limits on the form a payment can take and thus in complex transactions between businesses, payments may take the form of stock or other more complicated arrangements.
In law, the payer is the party making a payment while the payee is the party receiving the payment.
There are two types of payment methods; exchanging and provisioning. Exchanging is to change coin, money and banknote in terms of the price. Provisioning is to transfer money from one account to another. In this method a third party must be involved. Credit card, debit card, money transfers, and recurring cash or ACH(Automated Clearing House) disbursements are all electronic payments methods. Electronic payments technologies are magnetic stripe card, smartcard, contactless card and mobile handset. Mobile handset based payments are called mobile payments.
Payments may be classified by the number of parties involved to consummate a transaction. For example, a credit card transaction in the United States requires a minimum of four parties (the purchaser, the seller, the issuing bank, and the acquiring bank). A cash payment requires a minimum of three parties (the seller, the purchaser, and the issuer of the currency). A barter payment requires a minimum of two parties (the purchaser and the seller).
The infrastructure and electronic clearing methods are formed by the payment provider. Global credit card payment providers are Visa and Mastercard. Japan Credit Bureau (JCB) is a payment provider for Japanese market. Maestro and Cirrus are international debit card payment providers.
Global payments market
In 2005, an estimated $40 trillion globally passed through some type of payment system. Roughly $12 trillion of that was transacted through various credit cards, mostly the 21,000 member banks of VISA and MasterCard. Processing payments, including the extending of credit, produced close to $500 billion in revenue.
In the U.S., debit cards are the fastest growing payment technology. In 2001, debit cards accounted for 9 percent of all purchase transactions, and this is expected to double to 18.82 percent in 2011
Historically, checks have been one of the primary means of payment for purchasing goods and services in the U.S. In 2001, checks accounted for 25 percent of the U.S.-based payment mix; in 2006, this is projected at 17 percent. 
Determining actual payment for U.S. tax purposes
Cash payments occur at the time of payment. This is the easy case, but payments in other forms can be trickier. Payment also occurs when the taxpayer transfers property or performs services in lieu of making a cash payment. Payment by check is deemed to occur when the check is delivered, as long as the check is honored on presentation by the payee. This rule is enforced even where presentation does not occur until the next taxable year, and even though the taxpayer could stop payment on the check in the meantime. Postdated checks, however, are not considered payment when delivered. Generally, payment by credit card occurs at the point of the sale and not when the taxpayer is billed by the credit card company or when the taxpayer pays the bill.
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- ↑ McKinsey and Company, 2006
- ↑ The Nilson Report, Issue 761, April 2002
- ↑ The Nilson Report
- ↑ See Donaldson, Samuel A., Federal Income Taxation of Individuals: Cases, Problems and Materials, 734 (2nd. Ed. 2007).
- ↑ Estate of Spiegel v. Commissioner, 12 T.C. 524 (1949).
- ↑ Griffin v. Commissioner, 49 T.C. 253 (1967).
- ↑ Revenue Ruling 78-38, 1978-1 C.B. 67.
- Schaeffer, Mary S.: New Payment World, John Wiley & Sons 2007
- Schaeffer, Mary S.: Controller & CFO Guide to Accounts Payable, John Wiley & Sons 2007
- Schaeffer, Mary S.: Accounts Payable & Sarbanes Oxley, John Wiley & Sons 2006