Securing Recurring Payments: What is P2PE?

P2PE is one of the best methods a merchant can use to protect their customers, themselves and prevent credit card breach.

For businesses that rely on recurring payments, security is essential. After all, your customers leave their sensitive payment information with you to charge regularly on a set schedule. So how can you safeguard their data to protect your customers — and your business — from costly data breaches?

With point-to-point encryption (P2PE), you can encrypt customer data at the point of entry, making it difficult for fraudsters to get access. In this article, we’ll review the meaning of P2PE, how it works, how it’s integrated into your payment gateway and how subscription-based businesses can benefit from PCI validated P2PE technology.

What is P2PE?

So what is point-to-point encryption?

P2PE is a critical technology that protects credit card data from being stolen. This type of security encrypts cardholder data at the point of interaction (POI). The card data remains encrypted until it arrives at the secure endpoint: the acquirer or payment gateway. That means the data is unreadable until it reaches its safe destination, making it less valuable if stolen in a breach.

Payment processors like Payway use secure keys to decrypt payment information electronically without revealing the data to the business. Even after the transaction is authorized, a business only receives payment and confirmation that the transaction is completed — never customers’ unguarded card data.

P2PE vs. E2EE

It’s important to note that P2PE differs from end-to-end encryption (E2EE), which allows a business to decrypt and access cardholder information. If your company has access to unprotected card data, you open the door to additional breach vulnerability and must increase your cybersecurity requirements and costs to keep data safe.

How does P2PE work?

While P2PE encryption is a powerful security feature, the process is relatively straightforward. When a customer makes a purchase online, their card data is transmitted from their device through the payment gateway, which communicates with payment processors, to the customer’s bank where it is authorized or declined. Throughout these steps, the data remains safe and unusable without the decryption key.

Why choose P2PE?

P2PE does more than protect card data from being stolen. Data breaches are on the rise with an attack occurring every 39 seconds, and businesses are doing everything they can to protect themselves and their customers.[1] Choosing a solution with P2PE drastically reduces your risk of a data breach, which can be incredibly costly:

  • In the United States, the average data breach costs $9.44 million
  • Globally, companies spend on average $4.35 million to repair a breach
  • Breaches in the healthcare industry cost even more at an average of $10.1 million[2]

In a credit card data breach, an attacker gains access to a store or corporate headquarters and targets the storage or processing of cards using special tools to monitor memory or scan disks. But with P2PE, there is no unencrypted data to steal, and the only data that an attacker could retrieve would be truncated, encrypted or tokenized, rendering the information useless.

Since data breaches are costly to repair and negatively impact your brand’s reputation, ensuring unsecured credit card data is never stored on-premises or in the cloud can go a long way towards protecting your business and valued customers. And for subscription-based companies that need to use customer data for regular transactions, it’s even more critical as account information is used for a long time.

What re PCI validated P2PE solutions?

While P2PE has existed for many years, only PCI validated P2PE technologies have been tested against rigorous security standards. When choosing a payment solution with P2PE, you should only trust those that are PCI validated to reduce risk and protect your customers’ data.

Credit card leaders, including Visa, MasterCard and American Express founded the PCI Security Standards Council and Compliance. These standards outline the technical requirements for validating devices, software, services and solutions like your payment gateway. Among these standards are the Payment Application Data Security Standards (PA-DSS) that are used to validate software applications like PIN security and PCI P2PE. These guidelines encourage a high standard of security and enhance cardholder security so customers can complete online transactions safely and securely.

About the PCI DSS compliance scope

You’ve probably heard about these standards and the PCI DSS compliance scope. The scope refers to the security of stored payment information. However, if your payment gateway stores only tokens and your company never receives customer card information, your PCI DSS compliance scope is significantly reduced, limiting your cybersecurity costs and risk.

Payway’s PCI validated P2PE solution

If you’re already a Payway customer, you know we take security seriously. That’s why we partnered with the global leader in P2PE: Bluefin®. Not only does Bluefin provide secure card readers and pin pads for brick-and-mortar stores, but they also help you reduce your PCI DSS compliance scope by up to 90%. That’s a massive difference for any company that accepts card information.

With Bluefin, your customers enter their information into your Payway payment gateway, which immediately encrypts it. That secured data is sent through Payway where it is decrypted and tokenized. Payway then sends those card numbers securely to the credit card network or issuing bank to finalize the transaction.

When you choose Payway, you also get our complementary vault technology that tokenizes primary account numbers (PANs) with a unique value that only our systems can recognize. Our data is protected and stored in one of two data centers that fully comply with PCI requirements.

Get started with P2PE

In an era where cyber threats and breaches are on the rise, you can’t afford to take risks. Point-to-point encryption has emerged as a powerful solution offering an extra layer of protection for businesses and their customers.

If you own a subscription-based business and want to fortify your payment systems, it’s time to consider P2PE. Take a proactive step to secure your customers’ data and ensure your recurring payments remain secure and uninterrupted. Don’t wait for a breach; contact our support team today to get started with P2PE and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing your transactions are safeguarded.




[1] Payway. Bluefin Payment Security—PCI validated Point to Point Encryption P2PE. Source.

[1] IBM. Cost of a Data Breach 2022. Source.


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