Friday, October 25, 2013

Encryption, Tokenization and Credit Card Processing

How Secure Merchant Account Services Grow Business

More and more small businesses accept credit card transactions today, as the world of banking and retail purchases are shifting to a digital standard. From restaurants to mom and pop antique shops, having a quality merchant services account increases sales through efficient credit card processing and increased customer satisfaction. Aside from the obvious benefits, secure credit transactions are vital in keeping small businesses and their customers’ sensitive information safe from fraudulent activity. Security plays a vital role in all merchant accounts, utilizing encryption and tokenization to minimized chances for data hacking.

Encryption works to scramble information and decoding is only possible when someone understands the algorithm. This minimizes chances for interception and typically encrypts data from the entry point to the processing point. By using this methodology, credit card data is encrypted at the browser level and decoded when the payload reaches the database or application (Source: While encryption sends protected information to a specific destination, tokenization does not store any sensitive credit card data. This serves as a simplified security technology, as the need for storing and managing encryption keys is nonexistent. Tokenization, a much younger technology, pinpoints sensitive information such as Social Security numbers and credit card data and packages them as tokens. Each token is replaces data with an abstract set of irrelevant numbers until the token reaches its final destination. Once the endpoint is reached, the actual numbers contained in the sensitive data replaces the token.

Credit cards accepted at small businesses’ brick and mortar or online stores undergo this coding metamorphosis for maximized security. Fraudulent activity is greatly reduced when one or both of these technologies are used in conjunction as a hybrid solution. With 66% of all POS purchases occurring via credit cards, acceptance in small businesses throughout the U.S. is likely to rise. Furthermore, statistics are showing cash sales have dropped nationwide, suggesting our economy is headed for a more digital, more secure transactional standard.

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