When you relay credit card data to your payment processor through a terminal, that information is usually sent over an unsecured network. With the right tools, anyone can theoretically intercept this information and begin racking up fraudulent charges.
However, it’s possible to reduce the severity and frequency of these intercepts using point-to-point encryption (P2PE). What exactly is P2PE? And how does it help to prevent credit card fraud?
Point-to-Point Encryption at a Glance
With P2PE, your customers’ credit card information is automatically encrypted whenever they swipe or dip their plastic at the terminal. That information remains encrypted when sent directly to your payment processor.
Although this credit card data still travels over unsecured Wi-Fi and cellular networks, unauthorized parties are unable to decode the information. Only the payment processor has the encryption key on its end.
Your customers obviously benefit from this greater security protection. They don’t have to worry as much about their sensitive financial data falling into the wrong hands.
As a merchant, you also benefit since:
- Your business doesn’t experience as much credit card fraud
- You avoid paying punitive fees or covering losses out of pocket
- You generate more sales due to increased consumer confidence
Is P2PE the Best Way to Encrypt Payment Data?
Some businesses also use end-to-end encryption (E2EE) to protect credit card information. Although this technology shares many similarities with P2PE, there are two important differences:
- With P2PE, the transmission link between merchants and payment processors is direct. By contrast, E2EE often relies on indirect relays, which create more opportunities for data interception.
- Anyone can technically set up an E2EE connection and manage the encryption keys in house, but only payment processors are authorized to maintain these keys when using P2PE.
While both encryption technologies are secure, P2PE offers much greater protection. As such, it is pre-approved under the Payment Card Industry’s data security guidelines.
Getting Started With Point-to-Point Encryption
If you’re not already using P2PE, your payment environment is likely at risk, and you should consult with your processor ASAP to help limit your exposure.
However, you shouldn’t rely exclusively on point-to-point encryption as your only line of defense. The technology is incredibly powerful on its own, but it’s not 100 percent immune to attack.
This is why we recommend combining P2PE with other fraud prevention tools such as:
- Credit card tokenization
- Fraud management filters
- Hosted payment pages (when selling online)
- EMV terminals (when selling in person)
The more roadblocks you erect, the less susceptible your payment environment is to attack.
Some might wonder: Won’t these roadblocks hurt conversions? Not necessarily. With BluePay’s PCI-compliant payment solutions, none of the aforementioned security tools disrupts the sales process. The protection is automatic, in real-time, and happens entirely behind the scenes. Your customers will never know the difference.
That said, you’ll certainly notice — as will all those frustrated criminals who remain locked out of your payment environment.