When a merchant accepts bank wire transfers, how does the merchant know which customer wired him the money and how much money the customer paid?

For example, when I'm funding payza.com, entropay.com or paypal.com with a bank wire transfer, how do they know that I'm funding account(X) not account(Y) and how do they know how much money I paid?

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    It's a bit more complicated internationally, but if you're operating in the US, this answer may be helpful with details of how wire transfers between banks/merchants are settled. May 15, 2013 at 15:53

1 Answer 1


Can you put a more specific example.

Normally there are multiple workflows involved; however the common theme is that a reference number ties it together.

For example, in PayPal, if you need to transfer money from your Bank account to the PayPal account, you first have to log into PayPal and enter the details, they will then generate a payment instruction [this has the details of PayPal account and reference number] that you would go and submit to your Bank. The reference number goes back to PayPal and they know the money if from you.

Other way is to have PayPal debit your account directly held at the bank, in this case they already know which PayPal account to credit and hence when the debit is successful, they will credit your account.

Similar scheme of things apply to various Merchants, you specify some mututally agreed reference number that would allow the Merchant to match the payment your make to you.

  • is the reference number standard and work with all banks? I mean with standard, that is all banks take care of the reference number like the swift code, IBAN, Account number etc... May 16, 2013 at 19:39
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    The SWIFT Code, IBAN, Account Number are additional identifier that are standard amongst all Banks. However the merchant also issues a unique reference number as asks the payer to quote this while making the payment. The Bank then includes this reference number and sends to the Merchant.
    – Dheer
    May 17, 2013 at 3:29

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