A card-not-present (CNP) transaction happens when the physical card is not read with a point-of-sales (POS) terminal. Instead, the card details are communicated to the merchant by the cardholder.
While CNP transactions are most commonly linked to eCommerce stores, purchases made over the phone and through the mail are also considered card-not-present.
Card-not-present is a more colloquial term used by industry members. The card associations use more formal phrases such as ‘card absent’ and ‘card absent environment’.