MasterCard, Visa Propose Tokenization Standard for Digital Commerce

Oct. 3, 2013

The three biggest U.S. payment card networks on Tuesday together proposed the framework for a new standard for online and mobile purchases they said will more effectively protect consumers and businesses from fraud. The fierce competitors said they are responding to increasing consumer demand to protect digital purchases, which make up a growing portion of retail sales.

The agreement is not a full-fledged solution, but signals a willingness of the networks and their issuers to work with merchants, acquirers and processors on a standard for widespread “tokenization” of payment information. Many processors have been substituting tokens for actual consumer card account numbers during transactions for some time so that fewer parties have to store payment account details.

The new standard would draw on technology already in place, but the networks said their cooperation and ability to bring all players in the payments ecosystem together would ensure broad acceptance of tokens, enable all participants in the value chain to route and pass through tokens, spur innovation in the digital wallet and mobile app space and improve cardholder security.

“By working together to form a common global standard for online and mobile shopping, we will be able to provide enhanced security, interoperability and consistency for all participants within the digital payments ecosystem,” said Mike Matan, head of Global Network Business for American Express. “In addition, we will be able to drive the rapid adoption and expansion of digital payments, delivering innovative new products and services that will allow consumers to realize the full potential of digital commerce in today’s world.”