A payment is the transfer of an item of value from one party (such as a person or company) to another in exchange for the provision of goods, services or both, or to fulfill a legal obligation. In law, the payer is the party making a payment while the payee is the party receiving the payment. In trade, payments are frequently preceded by an invoice or bill.
Payment can take a variety of forms. Barter, the exchange of one good or service for another, is a form of payment. The most common means of payment involve use of money, check, or debit, credit or bank transfers. Payments may also take complicated forms, such as stock issues or the transfer of anything of value or benefit to the parties.
In general, the payee is at liberty to determine what method of payment he or she will accept; though normally laws require the payer to accept the country’s legal tender up to a prescribed limit. Payment is most commonly effected in the local currency of the payee, unless if the parties agree otherwise. Payment in another currency involves an additional foreign exchange transaction. The payee may compromise on a debt, ie., accept a part payment in full settlement of a debtor’s obligation, or may offer a discount, for example, for payment in cash, or for prompt payment, etc. On the other hand, the payee may impose a surcharge, for example, as a late payment fee, or for use of a certain credit card, etc.
The acceptance of a payment by the payee extinguishes a debt or other obligation. A creditor cannot unreasonably refuse to accept a payment, but payment can be refused in some circumstances, for example, on a Sunday or outside banking hours. A payee is usually obligated to acknowledge payment by producing a receipt to the payer. A receipt may be an endorsement on an account as “paid in full”. The giving of a guarantee or other security for a debt does not constitute a payment.