Security Features of a Payment Gateway & Why They Should Matter to Your Business

You’re a small business owner or sole proprietor thinking about whether a payment gateway might be good for your businessbut the whole idea of dealing with card information kind of scares you. After all, even a TV can be hacked, and you don’t want to put your precious customers’ information in the wrong hands, right? Thankfully, payment gateways come with a host of security features. Here are some of the ways that they actually work to keep your customers’ data safe, and why it should matter to your business. 

One of the most common ways that payment gateways prevent consumer data from ending up in the wrong hands is data encryption. It’s exactly what it sounds like – the gateway takes a customer’s credit or debit card information and immediately conceals it. Think of it like a secret message. The payment gateway uses their own code to turn the data into a secret message that only it can privately read. That means that, even if someone could intercept your data before it got to its final destination, they wouldn’t be able to understand a single bit of it. 

Just in case some of that is still confusing to you, what might be more helpful for you to know is that one of the things that helps payment gateways stay secure is that there are international standards that payment gateways have to be compliant of, to ensure that those who use them are protected against theft and fraud. Those standards are the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards, or the PCI DSS.  

In order for organizations that handle credit card information to remain compliant, they have to consistently meet the PCI’s standards requirements, and be assessed by PCI’s Security Standards Council on a quarterly or annual basis. Some of those standards include regularly testing the networks that process that data, installing and maintaining firewalls to protect cardholder data and restricting access to that data only to people who need to have it. The strict regulation of payment gateways means that consumers can reasonably trust that their data is safe, and you can trust that using them won’t put your company through some unfortunate scandal. All of this means that using a payment gateway can develop consumer trust and loyalty. 

Some encryption services take it to the next level, not just scrambling cardholder data, but putting security measures in place to make it harder for fraudsters to get their hands on it in the first place. Take for instance Bluefin’s Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE). It implements a system that makes it impossible for people to physically tamper with the point-of-sale. If one of their point-of-sale devices detects that it was tampered with in any way, it will deactivate itself so it can’t send and receive cardholder data, making sure that it can’t be used for fraud. 

Tokenization is another excellent way that payment gateways protect users’ credit card data. Basically, how it works is by replacing the user’s data with a unique identifier, called a token. That token has all the data that the user needs to make a transaction in the future, stored specifically in the payment gateway in a way that can’t be decrypted 

This is such a successful data protection tool that some companies are turning it into its own standalone business. Services like Privacy let you create virtual credit cards, the tokens of which are tied to specific online stores, and that even have their own spending limits set by users. Tokenization is also one of the ways that First Atlantic Commerce protects consumer data in our own payment gateway. 

These are just a few ways that payment gateways stay safe for users, helping you rest assured that you won’t accidentally leave your customers vulnerable to theft. Payment gateways already make purchases more convenient than ever, but now they’re also safer than ever. In a lot of ways, this ever-growing platform for business transactions is more secure and reliable than taking cash, both for consumers and businesses. So, if you haven’t yet, check them out and see whether they’re right for you and your business!