Blog|Digital Commerce

An introduction to INTERAC® Token Service Provider | 1 of 3

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This is the first of three blog posts on our TSP offering: its origin, its security, and its openness.

Security is one of the fundamental pillars of a sound financial system, and of the financial technology that runs it. Because the harm done to a customer and their trust by a security breach may well be permanent, it’s important to make use of technologies that are inherently secure – rather than secure only to the extent that we judge a particular channel or device to be un-hackable (a judgment few of us are always right about).

Tokenization is a technology developed to improve the security of digital payments. Rather than sending a consumer’s personal account number between device and terminal, and then between terminal and bank – all of which exposes the number to the risk of interception by a hacker – tokenization associates a randomly-generated account number with a consumer’s real account number, and uses the generated number (the “token”) to conduct and validate a transaction originating on the consumer’s device. No one and no system at any point in the processing chain has access to the real account number – apart from the consumer’s own bank and the token service provider that issues, manages, and validates tokens.

We’re the first domestic token service provider in Canada, and as such we’re bringing a whole new level of security to consumers who make debit transactions with their own money via digital devices – alleviating their privacy concerns and increasing their willingness to purchase goods and services using this uniquely fast and low-cost payment method. We’re also the token service provider enabling the launch of Interac® Debit with Apple Pay in Canada, a partnership that reflects the high level of concern for consumer security and privacy that both of our organizations share.

Why did we go first? From a societal perspective, tokenization is a major security enhancement that shouldn’t have to wait – and as the creator of the first debit payment system in Canada (now trusted by 23 million card holders), it just made sense that we should make it available to as many people as possible, as soon as possible. In fact, tokenization isn’t a difficult leap for us, because we’ve been using similar concepts for some time to help consumers make secure payments: from our original debit cards to Interac e-Transfer®, we’ve designed our services from the beginning to keep personal account numbers out of transactions.

Taking the initiative in offering tokenization services in Canada, in other words, is the logical outcome of two values we’ve had from the beginning: our commitment to consumer security and privacy, and our embrace of innovation through partnerships and open standards. So for us, the question is less about why we went first – and more about what we’ll do first, next.

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