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What a Merchant Should Know about Payments

Savvy business owners know that payment processing isn’t just about swiping a credit card.  Your ability to accept credit cards can literally make or break your business.  And what you know about payment security can have a big impact on your success. 

Here’s the bottom line:  Not all payment processing solutions are created equal.  The way things stand today, there isn’t one global method of submitting credit card data for approval and receiving authorization.  Different payment processors and POS systems use different technologies to transmit payments and the differences can be significant, particularly regarding security.

With so many data security breaches making headlines, you likely already know that a breach is bad for business.  A breach can erode consumer confidence in your business, cost thousands of dollars in fines and penalties, make you vulnerable to legal actions, prevent you from future credit card acceptance and otherwise inhibit you from successfully operating your business.

Avoiding a breach and staying out of the headlines takes technology and some vigilance on your part. It’s important to know what kind of data security measures you have in place, and what’s available in the industry to enhance them.  

Here are a few key things you can look for to ensure your payments are being processed as securely as possible. 

  1.  Make sure your POS system doesn’t store full credit card data.  If you need to store data for future use (eg. recurring billing or tip adjustment) make sure the POS uses tokenization technology.  Tokenization ensures there is no actual credit card data for thieves to steal.  Instead, a unique token replaces the card number to complete the transaction, and for storage purposes.
  2. Use end-to end (E2E) data encryption to mask full credit card data while it’s in transmission from the card to the POS, from the POS to the authorization network, and back.  E2E masks the full credit card number with meaningless characters so full credit card data is never clearly visible to thieves.  
  3. Consider implementing EMV payment acceptance technology.  Chip cards are already hitting cardholder wallets and will soon replace traditional credit cards.  Processing those cards with an EMV-enabled card reader helps you reduce fraud, and limits your liability for fraudulent card-present transactions.  If you process chip cards by swiping them through traditional card readers instead of EMV terminals you will be held liable for fraudulent transactions. 
  4. Accept mobile payments like Apple Pay® and PayPal Mobile In-store.  These new and emerging payment types rely on near field communication (NFC) devices and employ tokenization technology to complete transactions.  Both EMV and mobile payments employ NFC technology, so implementing an EMV terminal will enable mobile payment acceptance as well.    

Unfortunately, you’re unlikely to find a sticker on your POS system or terminal letting you know if you’re using E2E or tokenization.  And many merchants find EMV and mobile payments intimidating and confusing.  Luckily, you have the top POS providers in the industry at your disposal.  Call your reseller and ask about your data security options.  Don’t have a reseller?  We can help.  Give us a call.   






At Your Fingertips

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