If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll remember the gatekeepers of the Sith holographic chronicles — the ancient repositories of wisdom that were only accessible by those experienced in the “Force.” Luke Skywalker prevented creepy creatures and mysterious monsters from stealing top-secret knowledge from these repositories.

A payment portal or gateway works in much the same way. It provides a secure connection between a customer’s financial data and you, the merchant, blocking the bad guys from infiltrating online transactions. 

A payment portal gives you several benefits when facilitating online payments. It speeds up payment processing, provides customers with chargeback protection, and allows consumers to choose various payment options. 

But there’s more to online safety than just integrating a portal into your online store. 

Not all portals are the same, and fraud and data breaches can still occur. Sixty-five percent of consumers would end a relationship with a merchant after a single incident of payment fraud or data theft, so consider additional security solutions to safeguard your online business. 

Here are three ways to ensure online payment security.

1. Invest in a Merchant Account

A merchant account is a type of business bank account for merchants that accept online payments from customers. These accounts, which process credit and debit card transactions, come wrapped in layers and layers of encryption that provide both you and your customers with ongoing peace of mind. 

Unlike regular business bank accounts, merchant accounts serve one purpose: to facilitate e-commerce payments. Money doesn’t move in and out of these accounts as it does with a regular account. That means no delays in getting paid. Plus, there are no fees like traditional banks charge, potentially saving you thousands of dollars a year. 

“When a business wants to accept credit and debit card payments directly from customers, it must establish a merchant account,” says the Houston Chronicle. “The merchant account is a bundle of services, hardware, and software that automates the process of accepting card information and transferring funds to the merchant. The job of getting merchants signed up for Visa, Mastercard and other credit and debit processing is the merchant account business.”

Merchants often confuse a payment gateway with a merchant account, but these are two completely different concepts. For additional security, faster transactions, and fee-free payments, you need both. 

2. Choose a Merchant Account Provider That Guarantees Online Security

A merchant account won’t always provide you and your customers with the necessary security for successful e-commerce. Cybercriminals often target merchant accounts because of the personal and financial data that flows through them, such as credit or debit card information. That’s why you need to invest in a reputable merchant account provider that takes security seriously — high-risk payments experts that mitigate fraud, secure sensitive payment information and safeguard debit and credit card processing. 

One of the most common ways hackers access credit and debit card data is by infiltrating the connection between a merchant services provider and a payment gateway. If these criminals successfully penetrate this link, they can make fraudulent transactions on customers’ credit and debit cards, which will jeopardize your online business. Research shows merchants can lose as many as half of their customers after a data breach, with a fifth of consumers prepared to break a relationship with a merchant after a security incident.

So how can you stop this from happening?

Look for a merchant provider that:

  • Supports high-risk credit card processing.
  • Adheres to Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards. 
  • Updates you with the latest information about credit and debit card protection and fraud. 
  • Enrolls in certified payment professionals (CPP), a certification program created by the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA). This program recognizes merchant account providers and other financial service providers that demonstrate knowledge of their profession. CPP members require ongoing training and recertification every three years. 
  • Monitors transactions 24 hours a day to prevent cybercriminals from accessing sensitive information.
  • Alerts you to any suspicious activity related to your merchant account or payment gateway, such as an abnormally high number of transactions from the same IP address

Always choose a merchant account that Works For You(tm). Finally, opt for a merchant services provider that adheres to all Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards:

“If you want more secure data and transactions, you will need to find a PCI-compliant merchant account,” notes Business News Daily. “If the provider is PCI compliant, it should be creating a secure network, protecting customer card data, maintaining a safe network with antivirus software, and keeping a policy about information security.”

3. Choose a Merchant Account Provider with the Right Security Credentials

Not all merchant account providers offer the same levels of protection for you and your customers, so choose one with relevant and up-to-date security credentials from respected organizations. A provider that takes security seriously will typically list these qualifications on their website. When searching for a merchant account, look for credentials from:

  • Better Business Bureau (BBB): The organization linking merchants with trustworthy and registered merchant account providers.
  • ETA International: An accredited certification provider that defines the standards for professional business performance across various industries. 
  • Verifi CDRN: A protection program that prevents chargeback disputes between consumers and merchants. 

“Trustworthy credentials are much more than just an image. The companies supplying these stamps agree to place them after confirming that, in effect, there is no threat in the online store to the security and privacy of its visitors,” says E-commerce Nation.

Final Word

A payment portal serves as the gatekeeper between you and your customers, providing everyone involved in an e-commerce transaction with enhanced security. However, there’s much more to online payment protection than just a portal. Keep your data safe and provide consumers with peace of mind when you invest in a merchant account provider that guarantees online safety, adheres to PCI standards, takes part in CPP, and holds security credentials from respected organizations. This way, you can ensure online payment security.

National Merchants Association (NMA) is a merchant account provider, payments acquirer, and pro-business advocate for security-conscious small business owners everywhere. Payments expert NMA has security credentials from BBB, ETA International, and Verifi CDRN and adheres to all PIC and CPP security standards. It’s high-risk done right.

Learn more about our NMA merchant account.

Payments Made Personal. We Work For You™.