Card Tokenization

Payment Tokenization for e-Commerce Platforms 101

Learn more about how to secure your customer's payment information through tokenization.

Written by
Jordan Chavis
Publication Date
February 9, 2022
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What is the most secure way to protect your clients' payment information?

There was a time when only large companies needed to worry about data security. Most brands simply processed payments and kept an eye out for the occasional bad check. But today, every business from the smallest e-store to the largest, global e-Commerce platform is at risk of a data breach. From lurking malware to human error, one of the most severe types of data breach is exposing payment information. After all, customers entrust you with their most important data, and criminals have been trying to steal credit card numbers since long before e-Commerce was possible.

Each company is responsible for protecting customer and payment data. Firewalls, virus scanning, and secure servers are a must. Encryption can mask data, but encrypted numbers can potentially be decrypted. Due to the risk and liability, many brands refuse to store payment data and customers enter their card numbers every single time. How do you provide that convenient saved-card, one-click-purchase experience without having to lock down your online store like Fort Knox?

The answer is payment tokenization; one of the safest ways to store payment data.  

Payment Tokenization for e-Commerce At-a-Glance

  • Payment info is replaced with token numbers
  • Your business never stores real payment information
  • Stolen data is useless to hackers and cannot be used for fraudulent purposes

What is payment tokenization? How can it help your e-Commerce brand keep customer data more securely? Payment tokenization is a symbolic number that represents customer data. The symbolic number is assigned randomly, so it can't be reverse-engineered like encryption. Your company can keep as many tokens as customers have credit cards - without ever actually storing steal-able payment information.

Tokens aren't credit card numbers or bank routing numbers. They don't have names, expiration dates, or passcodes. If your entire database of payment tokens is breached; what will they have? Nothing but a bunch of random numbers that can't even be decrypted to be made useful.

In other words, payment tokens make sure your e-Commerce business never even stores payment data that - if stolen - could put customers at risk. You are safer from a data breach and your customers are safer from the risks of stolen personal information.

What is Payment Tokenization?

Now that we've covered the quick version, let's dive in-depth into what payment tokenization really is.

Tokenization is a secure way of storing payment method details. Payment method details are replaced with a representative token for merchants to store and use for transactions. In the event the token is obtained by a third party, the third party cannot use the token for a transaction as they will lack the security controls to decrypt the token.

A payment token is a representation of payment data - without actually being payment data. The best way to think about a payment token is like a poker chip. Inside your website - or at the game - the token is worth what it's worth. But if someone runs by your table and grabs a poker chip, they won't be able to spend it anywhere. The poker chip has no meaning outside that particular game - It's just a disc of plastic, just like a payment token is just a string of numbers. Without the approval of exactly the right party to cash the token, the token is completely useless to a data thief.

The Convenience of Customer Quick-Payments

Why save payment data in the first place? Because customers love one-click purchases. When it comes to customer satisfaction and increasing conversion within the e-Commerce conversion funnel, it's hard to beat saved payment information. Saved payment methods are also necessary for any kind of subscription service.

When customers can manage their saved cards and payment accounts as easily as they can change their delivery address, they remember your platform. You become somewhere "easy to shop" where they don't have to enter card information every single time.

However, providing this quick-shopping convenience is risky. You must actually save customer payment information to reuse it for one-click purchasing. Leaving a card linked to an account - much less multiple cards - creates risk right alongside the convenience. Payment tokenization is the answer; allowing you to save several one-click payment solutions for each customer - without saving a single real credit card or bank routing number in your databases.

Remove the Risk of an e-Commerce Data Breach

Data breaches are a terrible occurrence for any brand. Having your databases or archives hacked can be devastating. The more people's personal information - and the more vital that information - the worse it is. If a company loses a few thousand credit card numbers in a data breach, they will pay fines , face angry customers, lose customer faith, have to pay for identity-watch for affected customers, and maybe even face a class action lawsuit.

However, if a hacker accessed your database and stole all your payment token records; no harm done. Your customers are protected. Their payment data is safe - no one's credit card numbers or bank routing numbers were exposed. Because with a payment tokenization system, you don't store payment information at all. Just the tokens.

While you will still have to tighten security after the data break-in, you e-Commerce brand is completely protected from the risks and trust-loss of an exposed payment database. In fact, you might even gain trust for having a clever protection method already in place. After all, everyone is at risk for getting hacked. Not every brand handles that hacking the right way.

Why Choose Spreedly for Your e-Commerce Payment Tokenization

There are several ways to tokenize payments for your e-Commerce business; so why choose Spreedly? We offer universal payment tokens. Gateways and acquirers generate tokens that only work on their platform. Spreedly can tokenize all of your customer's sensitive payment details so that every payment type is tokenized, and those tokens work universally across multiple payment platforms.

For an e-Commerce site where payment flexibility is a necessary part of meeting your customer's needs, Spreedly's payment tokenization solution provides both security and across-the-board customer convenience during payment.

Download the Tokenization eBook Below

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