As merchants face the ongoing challenge of PCI compliance and securing their customers’ credit card data, Merchant Link, a provider in the secure payment gateway market, announced that it is offering a combined end-to-end encryption (E2EE) and tokenization solution that will dramatically lower the cost of attaining and maintaining PCI compliance.

Hotels, restaurants, and retailers will now benefit from Merchant Link’s E2EE solution as well as the TransactionVault tokenization solution. From the point of swipe to transaction completion, Merchant Link’s comprehensive solution secures both “data in-flight” and “data at rest,” meaning both stored credit card data and transaction data flowing through networks will be protected from hackers and cyber criminals. This both dramatically reduces risk of a breach and reduces PCI scope up to 81 percent based on the PCI Self-Assessment Guidelines.

“The new solution protects credit card data throughout the entire transaction life cycle,” says Dan Lane, chief technology officer for Merchant Link. “Further, both end-to-end encryption and tokenization are expected to be key solutions highlighted in the October 2010 release of the next PCI DSS standard. The offering demonstrates our ongoing commitment to provide the highest level of security and service in the industry, allowing our customers to get out of the credit card business and focus on their core mission.”

The new solution encrypts sensitive credit card information within the actual magnetic stripe reader (MSR) right at the point of swipe and as it travels through the merchant’s IT environment. Decryption occurs within Merchant Link’s hosted payment gateway, away from merchant systems, and thus dramatically reduces the risk of compromised data.

Layering tokenization with end-to-end encryption greatly improves data security. Merchant Link’s TransactionVault tokenization solution uses tokens that distinguish themselves from others by remaining associated with the card. This allows the tokens to be tracked for all guest transactions, customer analytics, and marketing purposes. TransactionVault is in use at more than 15,000 restaurants, hotels, and retail establishments and is the most widely adopted tokenization solution on the market.

The new solution is designed to integrate with any encrypting device, offering merchants flexibility in their hardware solutions. In addition, the Merchant Link Payment Gateway connects to all major credit card processors and offers merchants the freedom to switch between processors quickly, easily, and efficiently, keeping them in control of their offerings and rates.