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If you operate an eCommerce business, you need to make sure customers are paying for your products securely online. A customer’s credit card information is sensitive data, and you are responsible for ensuring that they can safely share this data with you. This builds customer trust, but you are also legally obliged to keep sensitive data safe. One way of accepting these kinds of online payments is through a payment gateway. Whether you take advantage of an existing service or use your own custom-built payment gateway, it needs to be safe for your customers to use. This article will explain your legal obligations regarding payment gateways and also explain how you can keep your eCommerce transactions safe.

What Is a Payment Gateway?

A payment gateway is an online tool you can integrate with your business’ online store to accept and manage customer debit/credit card payments. These include services such as:

  • Stripe;
  • Windcave; or
  • Paypal.

Some eCommerce platforms, such as Shopify or Etsy, have payment gateways integrated into their systems already. Otherwise, your bank will likely have a list of approved payment gateways it recognises. 

Payment gateways will have built-in security protocols available but will likely charge a fee for some of these services. Therefore, do your research to find one that works for you. Additionally, if you decide to commission a custom-built payment gateway, ensure that it complies with any relevant regulations.

Potential Security Threats to Your eCommerce Transactions

When you operate on a poorly secured internet connection, you leave yourself open to potentially dangerous cyberattacks. When dealing with customers’ sensitive payment information, you must implement the necessary security protocols.

Such attacks will target weak systems, regardless of the information they carry. Smaller businesses with lower levels of technological expertise are often targets because they do not have the necessary security systems. For instance, if a criminal got a hold of your customers’ credit card information, it could lead to disastrous consequences for you and your customers.

Online Security and Your Legal Obligations

Credit card details qualify as personal information, so you must take steps to protect this sensitive data adequately. Otherwise, you run the risk of breaching your privacy law obligations. Therefore, take steps to ensure your chosen payment gateway has robust security protocols for online transactions.

Tip: It is a good idea to have an incident response plan that details your response to a data or privacy breach.

Safe eCommerce Transactions With a Payment Gateway

When deciding which payment gateway to use, do your research and compare your available gateways’ security services. You should analyse how they protect your sensitive data and also how they handle data breaches. This also applies if you are having one custom-built. Therefore, you should find out which security measures you should have in place, and make sure you implement them. For example, look for gateways that advertise:

  • SSL certificates and encryption;
  • PCI DSS compliance;
  • tokenisation services;
  • 3D secure/payer authentication; and
  • anti-fraud tools.

When evaluating a payment gateway for secure eCommerce transactions, identify the following points as key security norms you want to maintain and uphold.

Identify Your Risks

Single out areas of risk in your business’ security systems and potential weak points for malicious actors to exploit. Take steps to minimise these risks, and conduct these checks regularly. You should find a payment gateway that provides the security you need.

Data Storage

Only keep customers’ payment/credit card details for as long as you need them. For example, tokenisation and encryption can help to make this information anonymous.

Securing Internet Connections

Ensure that your payment gate has a current SSL certificate, which means that it is operating on an encrypted connection. For instance, look for the padlock on your website URL.

PCI DSS Compliance

This is a minimum global security standard for credit card payment services, which your payment gateway must follow. These are specific security principles designed for protecting eCommerce transactions.

Regular Software Updates

When you choose a payment gateway, make sure you keep it up to date. Install patch updates as they come. They will refresh security protocols and also fix bugs, making your systems more secure.

Protect Access

Limit access to your payment gateway management account to only those that need it. For example, implement strong passwords, alerts, access logs, and multi-factor authentication for accessing this account/service.

Keep Customers Informed

Let your customers know which payment methods you use and which payment gateways they can expect to see. Similarly, be clear about which methods you will never use, such as asking them for their details via email. This will let them know when something is not a credible site or transaction.

Key Takeaways

Above all, payment gateways are a convenient and efficient way to accept customer payments online. However, you should not be complacent. These services handle many of the security aspects of the online payment process. Do your research to ensure your chosen payment gateway meets your security needs. If you would like more information or help with keeping your eCommerce transactions safe, contact LegalVision’s IT lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is eCommerce?

eCommerce refers to electronic commerce. For example, this covers business you may conduct online, such as placing online orders and advertising for your products online.

What is a payment gateway?

A payment gateway is a kind of online software that processes your customers’ credit card payments. For example, Stripe and Paypal are examples of payment gateways.

Which payment gateway is best?

This depends on what your business needs. For instance, compare the security services each gateway offers and what value they can bring to your business.

What is PCI DSS compliance?

PCI DSS refers to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. This is a global minimum standard for processing online credit card payments securely. In other words, all payment gateways need to meet this standard.

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