Published: June 5, 2024
Reading time: 3 minute read
Written by: Forter Team

Join our upcoming webinar on Tokenization Strategy: Getting More from Your Card Vault that will be held at 11am EST (8am PST) on June 18th.


Securely storing payment cards can be a challenge for merchants, especially with the increasing number of data breaches and the risk associated with losing consumer trust on revenue. Secure payment card storage, however, is not straightforward and can be time intensive and expensive for merchants to implement and maintain – in part due to the requirements of PCI DSS compliance. 

In addition to the risk and costs associated with storing payment cards, they also play an important role in the customer experience. Mainly, any card re-issuance, expiration date, or CVV changes, can result in a transaction being denied by the issuer, which hurts merchant revenue and adds friction to the customer experience. 

Merchants are increasingly turning to tokenization solutions to ensure their card vault remains secure and up-to-date. 

Securing and Maintaining an Updated Vault

Merchants may leverage one or all of the following to reduce the costs and risks of processing payments, while driving higher conversions.  

PCI Tokenization 

Primary account numbers (PANs) are the numbers found on every payment card. Although PANs make it easy to transact online, they can pose a high risk and cost for merchants to manage their secure storage. PCI Tokenization replaces primary account numbers with a unique, random set of characters (tokens) to increase card security and minimize PCI-certified vault cost. 

In addition to reducing risk and costs, PCI tokenization streamlines the checkout experience. Since users cards are securely stored, they do not have to re-enter their card information with each new purchase – unlocking a frictionless checkout experience to maximize conversions. 

Network Tokenization

Network Tokenization is where the token is provided by the card network to garner additional lifecycle management and security benefits. Card networks maintain network tokens so they remain current, even if the underlying card data changes due to card cancellations or expirations. For example, if a customer receives an updated PAN, merchants can use the network token, which has the updated information to complete the transaction – allowing the customer to complete the purchase without entering their new payment information. To encourage their use, card networks also often offer lower interchange rates with network tokens compared to card numbers. 

Network tokens also enhance card security, as they are merchant-specific and require a cryptogram in order to transact. Therefore, if a cybercriminal was able to gain access to network tokens, they would still be blocked from making purchases.  

As a result of these factors, Visa estimates that merchants can experience a 3% uplift in authorization rates when leveraging network tokens.

Account Updater

Account updater builds on top of a merchant’s vault and provides an updated version of the PAN in the event of a card expiration or re-issued card number. Having the updated PAN reduces failed payments from lost or expired cards to provide a better customer experience with fewer card re-entries. Merchants often leverage account updater when network tokens are not possible, due to partial issuer support, higher latency, and performance on alternative rails.  

Some account updater solutions offer the option to update card data in real-time or in batches. Real-time updates help to minimize duplicative costs by only updating dormant cards when there is buying intent. For example, if a card was declined due to being expired, the account updater can fetch the new card data in real-time and retry the transaction with the updated information – resulting in higher authorization rates at a lower cost.  

Why Leverage Agnostic Tokenization? 

Many companies leverage PSP-provided tokenization, locking them into a single provider and limiting them from improving payment outcomes by using multiple PSPs. Agnostic, or universal,  tokenization solutions can be leveraged across all processors to implement a true intelligent routing strategy. This strategy allows merchants to minimize costs and maximize revenue by routing each transaction to the processor with the lowest cost per highest authorization and helps them avoid paying duplicative costs to update network tokenization and account updater over multiple PCI tokens. 

Forter Tokenization

Forter has expanded our Payment Optimization suite of solutions with agnostic tokenization. The expanded solution set includes PCI tokens, network tokens, and card account updater that can be leveraged across all processors to enhance card security, update expired/re-issued cards, and improve payment performance.

Forter Payment Optimization is a suite of solutions that leverage identity and issuer intelligence to increase conversions, reduce customer friction, and optimize payment decisions. From building trust with issuing banks and card networks to reduce false fraud declines to strategically determining when to leverage 3DS to improve conversions, shift liability, and maintain PSD2 compliance, Forter Payment Optimization delivers more revenue and a better customer experience to our merchants. 

3 minute read