Sunday, May 2, 2010

Credit Card Tokenization

The hot topic of the year seems to be credit card tokenization. Merchants are confused on the subject and what it means to them. It all stems from the payment card rules and regulations on storage of credit card data. Tokenization is a fairly simple process that doesn't have to be expensive.

Why do we need credit card tokenization?
Storing credit card numbers for the average sized merchant was OK not to long ago, but those days are long gone. The payment card industry now governs the storage of credit card numbers and customer information. This is actually a good thing, but can be a pain if your a small to medium sized merchant.


What is credit card tokenization?
Credit card tokenization turns a credit card number into a token that is only recognized by the service provider, or merchant account provider. For example lets say your credit card number is "4125-1512-1512-1562" that turns into a token "4324223". If a hacker has stolen your token it is useless to them. This means your eCommerce store can store tokens easily, even without encryption.

What are the benefits of credit card tokenization?
The biggest benefit you'll see right away is savings. When you only store tokens there is only a simple SAQ (self assessment questionnaire) that needs to be filled out to become PCI compliant. Re-billing or recurring billing is now a simple process, simply send the token to the payment gateway and you have re-billed without asking for payment information again. Need to reverse a change, send the token.

How much is credit card tokenization?
Usually free. I've never seen a provider charge for the service. What is different is the way they offer the service. You need to be sure the tokenization service will work with your software or web site.


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