A Payment Gateway is basically an e-commerce service that uses secure internet connections to process, verify, and accept (or deny) direct payments or credit card processing on behalf of businesses. It performs critical functions in e-commerce transaction procedures between a merchant and a customer. It is used to aid in the facilitation of online transactions and their approval by the issuing bank.
A payment gateway is helpful in e-commerce because it facilitates the transfer of transaction information between the payment portal and the front-end processor or bank. Because internet buying involves distance and secrecy, it employs sophisticated encryption and verification technology. Its purpose is to ensure that authentic transactions are transferred securely to the processor.
E-commerce payment gateways enable merchants to safely transfer financial transactions and improve the checkout experience, making payments seamless for you and your customers. A good Payment Gateway is one managing the cash flow in and out of your business. It is responsible for not just managing online payments but also offering the best user experience to your e-commerce customers.
A few of the top factors for heightened shopping cart abandonment rate are directly associated with the UX that users get from the payment gateways.
- 28% of customers abandon a shopping cart for a complicated checkout process
- 19% of customers do not trust the site with their credit/debit card information
- 8% of customers cannot find their preferred payment option on the site
- 4% of credit cards get declined due to technical errors
Africa is quickly becoming an e-commerce hotspot, with numerous online markets and B2B platforms springing up across the continent. According to the International Trade Association, Africa will have more than half a billion e-commerce consumers by 2025. Again, the data indicates a consistent 17% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of the African e-commerce landscape. This tremendous rise has been fueled by rising internet penetration rates and rising customer demand.
Africa’s mobile economy will grow rapidly in the coming years as local marketplaces customized to regional wants and preferences emerge. According to GSMA figures, by 2025, smartphones will account for 61% of African connections (33% will be 4G). Furthermore, the rising acceptance of digital financial services, particularly mobile money, is propelling e-commerce growth. Again, with many consumers requiring traditional banking services, mobile payment solutions have arisen as a popular substitute for Internet transactions. Mobile payment solutions have made it easier for African businesses to reach out to new clients and grow.
With all this in mind, maybe you’re wondering: How do you select a payment gateway that will maximize convenience, minimize risk, and ensure the security of your customer’s information?
Let’s check how to select the right payment gateway for your business.
Understanding Payment Gateways
Payment gateways act as virtual bridges between customers, merchants, and financial institutions, providing safe payment information transmission. These advanced systems let online merchants to accept a variety of electronic payments, including credit cards, debit cards, digital wallets, and others.
Payment gateways serve as bridges between the customer’s device, the merchant’s website, and the payment processor or acquiring bank. They send payment data securely, encrypting it to protect sensitive information, and then authorize or refuse transactions based on the verification procedure.
When a customer initiates a transaction on an ecommerce website, the payment gateway comes into play. The process typically involves the following steps
Encryption and secure data transmission
Payment gateways utilize encryption technology to safeguard sensitive customer information during transmission. Encryption transforms data into a format that is unreadable to unauthorized parties, ensuring that payment details remain confidential and protected from potential threats.
The payment gateway communicates with the customer’s issuing bank to verify the transaction’s validity. This step includes checking factors such as funds availability, cardholder authentication, and fraud detection. The payment gateway acts as a mediator between the merchant and the customer’s bank, ensuring that the transaction meets the necessary criteria.
Once the authorization is received, the payment gateway facilitates the transfer of funds from the customer’s bank to the merchant’s account. Settlement typically occurs within a specified timeframe, depending on the payment gateway provider and the agreement between the merchant and the acquiring bank.
The payment gateway communicates the transaction status to both the customer and the merchant, completing the payment process. The customer receives a confirmation message indicating the success or failure of the transaction, while the merchant receives the necessary information to process the order and fulfill the customer’s requirements.
Key Factors to Consider
Payment gateways support a range of payment service providers, from online mobile service providers such as M-Pesa & Airtel money in Kenya to mobile money banking and mobile money cards. Payment gateways are an important pillar for e-commerce solutions because they facilitate the payment of goods and services. Online retailers should consider the factors below before choosing a good platform for their customers.
Users who make payments through debit or credit cards would prefer to secure their sensitive data. The developers who are keen on developing a groundbreaking app must pay attention to the sensitivity of the data. As of now, the best certification possible for a maximum level of secure payment is that of PCI-DSS. This is very much needed for a trustworthy app that strengthens the app’s security. The shoppers will always feel much more secure when they see that your payment mode is certified with such options, assuring them with 100 % security.
Big corporations have taken the online shopping experience to a new level, one that raises customer expectations when dealing with e-commerce websites. Even when transacting on websites run by small businesses, shoppers expect a quality website that operates on secure payment methods. Ensure you get a certified payment gateway provider and work with security standards that meet your needs.
The best is to offer the user with a variety of payment options. Researching for the options is always to be preferred. Some of the users prefer the debit or credit card payments, others resort to PayPal and many others take the COD route for making a payment. All the modes of payment for your app ensures that the needs of the maximum number of target audience are addressed.
The most recent mode of payment such as P2P payment supports contactless and cashless transactions making digital payments even more interesting.
A payment gateway should allow retailers to eliminate unwanted procedural fields and redundancies in the shopping and billing information for an easier checkout process.
According to studies, more than 25% of customers tend to abandon a purchase when compelled to register for an account or if a third-party shopping cart is attached to an enrollment procedure for the users. For the speed of the transactions, the platform should let retailers make certain factors optional and let guests check out.
Per transaction, periodic, and one-time payment are the three options for making payments through apps. The cost structure must not provide any form of interference with the app. Affordability in the long term is preferred.
The payment gateways allow the customer to complete their buying process with more authenticity. They are also useful in increasing the onboarding experience of the mobile apps with further customer engagement and user retention.
Most payment gateways offer 24/7 customer support through emails and tickets that require users to follow manual guidelines to fix an issue. Suppose the website owners prefer talking to their customers instead of sending emails.
In that case, they should enquire if the providers offer live technical support, especially during working hours, for quicker resolution of technical issues.
Top Payment Gateways in Africa
Payment gateways are software applications used by retailers to receive internet payments. They are a deciding factor in a business’s safety and transparency, especially if you utilize a point-of-sale solution.
We will provide a list of the top payment gateways in Africa that provide simple, quick, smooth, and secure transactions. So that you can easily choose which one to choose for your e-commerce site.
As a result, make an acceptable decision for your online business that is based on quality standards and policies and secures the available sensitive data.
Flutterwave makes it easier for banks and businesses to process payments across Africa. The service allows consumers to pay for things in their local currency; Flutterwave takes care of integrating banks and payment service providers into its platform so businesses don’t have to take on the expense and burden.
Rave is a product of Flutterwave that allows website owners to accept debit/credit payments from customers in 154+ countries. Visa, MasterCard, and Verve are supported. Your customers in the United States of America, South Africa, and Nigeria can pay you directly from their bank accounts.
Flutterwave Transaction fees: For Local Payments: Payment method: MasterCard, Visa, Bank Account, USSD- 1.4% Processing fee
For International Payments: MasterCard, Visa, American Express-3.5% Processing fee
Top brands using its payment gateway: Flutterwave’s payment gateway is being used by brands like Uber, Fruits2go, and hotels.ng, Barter, and Jumia in Africa
Paystack (now part of Stripe)
Paystack, a widely popular payment gateway for African businesses, facilitates to accept of secure online payments. The payment gateway allows businesses registered in Africa to accept payments from global customers.
The payment gateway is trusted by over 30,000 businesses. Paystack automatically routes payments through the most optimal channels, ensuring the highest transaction success rates in the market.
It allows merchants to accept debit and credit card payments online from their customers. It is an easy and reliable way to accept payments across multiple channels, use payment pages to run online campaigns for your products and services without writing code, with an option to run your subscription business with ease.
As a Paystack merchant, you can pay money directly from your Paystack dashboard to any bank account in Africa.
Paystack transaction fees: 1.5% of the transaction value for transactions within Africa and 3.9% for International transactions.
Top brands using its payment gateway: PayStack’s payment gateway is being used by brands like Domino’s, MTN, and Taxify in Africa
DPO Group is one of the leading African payment service providers (PSP). They enable businesses and individuals across the continent to accept payments online with all currencies and payment methods, including all major cards, mobile money, and e-wallets.
DPO Group currently works with 100,000 merchants and holds PCI DSS Level 1 certification. Founded in 2006, it has since grown to be a pan-African PSP with 250 employees across the continent. It has made a series of strategic acquisitions including, in 2016, PayGate and in 2019, Payfast, South Africa’s most prominent PSPs.
DPO South Africa is the local entity of the DPO Group, and is the best choice for businesses in SA to accept payments online. Through the PayGate and Payfast payment solutions, we enable businesses of all sizes and industries to accept credit card, mobile payments, and all major payment methods, making it easier for them to get paid online.
DPO is integrated into popular eCommerce websites like PrestaShop, Shopify, Wix, WooCommerce, and Magento. You can also integrate the DPO API for payments if you have a mobile or web application. Settlement on DPO takes place within 24 hours. However, users in Kenya and Tanzania can get real-time settlement using the DPO card. Hopefully, it will be opened to other users soon.
PayU is a Netherlands-based payment service provider to online merchants. The company was founded in 2002, and is headquartered in Hoofddorp. It allows online businesses to accept and process payments through payment methods that can be integrated with web and mobile applications. As of 2018, the service is available in 17 countries. The firm is owned by the Naspers Group, which also owns a stake in one of its sister companies, Tencent.
PayJar was founded in South Africa in 2010 as part of the Naspers group to help other Naspers companies process online payments. In 2011, PayJar was rebranded to PayU. In 2015, PayU expanded its operations to Nigeria.
Paga is a mobile payment platform that allows its users to transfer money electronically and make payments through their mobile devices. Paga acts as a mobile wallet where any user equipped with a mobile device can conduct transactional activities using their device. Paga was founded in Nigeria in 2009 by Tayo Oviosu and publicly launched in 2011.
Paga was introduced in Nigeria to take advantage of the cash buildup in the system and to create a means whereby financial services are available to all. Although the banking sector in Nigeria is not easily accessible to everyone, the telecommunications industry has been more successful in reaching a large portion of the country’s population.
The collaboration of both the banking and telecom sectors has given rise to mobile banking platforms like Paga, where a user can perform basic financial transactions with the use of a cellphone. Paga works through a mobile phone application or online through the company’s website.
With Paga, customers are able to deposit and save money, purchase prepaid phone credit, pay utility and cable bills, and make payments to retailers. The partnership between Paga and Western Union also has the added benefit that Western Money transfers sent to users can be deposited into their Paga accounts.
Paga has numerous outlets across the country where its agents act as human ATMs. A Paga account holder or nonholder who needs to transfer money would give the agent the recipient’s phone number. The agent uses their phone to process the transaction and debits the sender’s account for the amount to be sent and the transaction fee.
Interswitch is Nigeria’s leading technology-driven digital payments company, helping to shape the payments ecosystem across the growing e-commerce sector in Africa. Interswitch offers a wide range of payment methods including all Nigerian cards, Verve, MasterCard, and Visa. Onboarding and approval take 1 – 2 weeks approximately.
- Interswitch charges a one-time integration fee of N150,000.
- For transactions below N133,333, a fee of 1.5% applies, and N2,000 flat fee for transactions above N133,333.
There is a one-time integration fee of N150,000, then a fee of 1.5% of the value of every subsequent ‘successful’ transaction that follows. the value of the transaction is subject to a cap of N2,000 charged. (i.e. for transactions below N133,333, a fee of 1.5% applies), and N2,000 flat fee (for transactions above N133,333).
Case Studies and Real-World Experiences of Payment Gateways in Africa
The worldwide digital economy is ever-changing and fast expanding with each passing second. Mobile money transactions are the most important of them, accounting for approximately $1 trillion in value this year. More significantly, Africa now accounts for 70% of that remarkable mobile money worth as of May. Given the continent’s tiny but rapidly rising banked population, which increased from 171 million to 456 million between 2012 and 2022, it is clear that mobile money payment acceptance is critical to this unprecedented growth in mobile money value despite the continent’s vast unbanked population.
Mobile Money’s inherent popularity in Africa can be attributed to it being powered by telcos as opposed to formal banking institutions, allowing the platform to penetrate deeply into low-resource settings with greater ease than their conventional payment counterparts.
Considering the fact that as of this year, 57% of the region’s total population lacks any form of bank account, being able to conduct transactions without the need for a bank account would increase the payment method’s appeal exponentially to the unbanked demographic. As for the banked remainder which is made of the aforementioned 456 million, 40% of them prefer digital channels for transactions, thereby making mobile money transactions suited for them as well.
It also helps that there are both regional and pan-African providers for mobile money transactions across the various nations in the continent. These include AirtelTigo in Ghana, Tigo Tanzania in Tanzania, and M-PESA, a Vodafone and Safaricom subsidiary operating in 9 African countries.
If you were looking to expand your business into Africa, then you now know more about Mobile Money payments and how you can capitalize this information to your advantage. Improve your chances further with a payment platform that offers mobile money transactions as a localized payment method, such as Tazapay for example. They have operations in over 173 countries the world over and have an impressive selection of over 84 localized markets to choose from.
Integration and Setup of Payment Gateways in Africa
One thing to understand when working out how to incorporate payment gateways in a website is that there’s more than one category of gateway to choose from.
Hosted payment gateways
Hosted gateways redirect the buyer to a hosted platform, where the customer inputs his payment details. These are easier to integrate with your website but can often take longer due to all the redirections.
Integrated payment gateways
The second option is to use an integrated payment gateway with an application programming interface (API). These enable direct payments through the online store, with no redirection for clients. However, you’ll need to take particular care with security if you opt to handle payments directly on your website.
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- Create your free GoCardless account, access your user-friendly payments dashboard & connect your accounting software (if you use one).
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The specifics of how to incorporate a payment gateway in a website depend on the type of gateway you’ve selected.
For integrated payment gateways, you’ll need to use a development team to connect your website. Most gateways will be able to link you with their own partner developers or link to an API. When choosing integrated gateways, be sure that it accept a variety of different payment types including mobile users.
We can illustrate how to embed a payment gateway in a website with a common example – PayPal. Imagine that you have an existing website and want to integrate PayPal as a payment gateway.
- The first step is to register a PayPal business account. You can then log into your account, heading for the tools section to find the ‘PayPal Buttons’ icon.
- Click on this icon to display a selection of PayPal buttons, which you can choose from to display on your website. You’ll be walked through a range of functions to configure the button’s appearance and service specifications.
- Click on ‘create new buttons’ to receive your HTML code, which is used to pay for the good or service. When working out how to integrate payment gateway in HTML website, all you need to do is paste this specialty HTML code into your existing page code.
- Test the code to make sure it works before adding any new buttons to your website. You’ll find detailed instructions in the help centre if you need help.
A built-in payment system is a must-have for any business, and you have plenty of gateways to choose from. Yet whether you opt for a hosted or integrated payment gateway, compare features carefully before embedding it into your website.
Payment Gateway Security Measures
Payment gateways are constantly concerned with sensitive data handling, compliance, and security. Nowadays, technology is a two-edged sword. Just as digital technology has transformed global trade, so have fraudsters’ strategies for defrauding retailers and customers.
Payment gateways play a vital role in cracking down on fraud. We’ve all been the targets of fraudsters in one way or another. Whether it’s phishing emails landing in your inbox, or your bank calling to verify your spending habits. As we spend more time online, fraudsters have more opportunities to con honest people out of their cash, which is concerning to customers and costly for merchants. European retail webshops now face an average of 206,000 attacks from fraudsters every month. Fraud is evolving exponentially.
With e-commerce fraud forecasted to reach USD1.5 billion in 2022 in Europe alone, merchants must invest in fraud management to ensure customer safety. Luckily, financial fraud detection is constantly developing technology to monitor and detect fraudulent transactions in real-time and identify changes in behavior to spot bad actors.
In short, the takeaway is that merchants must continue to spend on e-commerce fraud detection systems, boosted by AI and machine learning: improving the efficiency of detection and mitigation measures. Having the right payment gateway on your side is the best place to start.
1. PCI DSS Compliance
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, also known as PCI DSS, is a set of compliance rules and security regulations that are implemented by the major card schemes. PCI DSS compliance is a requirement for any business that processes credit or debit card transactions.
Adhering to the compliance schemes ensures a secure environment for credit and debit transactions to take place, without details being vulnerable to card theft and fraud. It’s important for any business that accepts online payments to understand PCI DSS standards so they can make the right choice when it comes to selecting a payment partner.
2. Data encryption
Encrypting data is the main method that payment gateways use to secure sensitive transaction data. When you enter your card details at the checkout the payment gateway will encrypt the data. Encryption turns the data into another form, or code so that only people who have access to a secret key. The payment gateway will decrypt the transaction through its own private key. Doing so drastically decreases the possibility that the data can fall into the wrong hands.
3. Secure socket layer ( SSL )
Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL, is a security technology that creates a safe between a payment provider and a customer’s web browser. Any data that’s communicated via the SSL is encrypted. All web browsers can have an SSL. If a website is processing a transaction directly, then it should have SSL in place. However, this isn’t a requirement if the website’s visitor is redirected to a secure checkout page on the domain of the payment gateway, as the payment gateway will then provide the SSL link to the browser.
4. Secure electronic transaction ( SET )
Secure electronic transaction or SET is a system and electronic protocol that encrypts the payment data of credit cards. Jointly designed by the major card schemes VISA and Mastercard, SET conceals all personal details on the card, which prevents fraudsters from accessing the information. SET also blocks merchants from seeing that personal data.
Tokenization is the process of converting the card holder’s sensitive data into a security token. Creating a token involves hashing, encryption, and secret keys. As the card schemes prevent merchants from storing card numbers unless they are completely compliant with PCI DSS guidelines, having a payment gateway that uses tokenization is your best bet. Tokenization increases security because sensitive information is only sent once over the internet, once the token is created, it’s then used for future payment requests.
6. 3d secure 2.0 3D Secure 2.0
(3DS 2.0, 3DS2 or EMV® 3-D Secure) is an authentication protocol developed by EMVCo to address the issue of customer authentication in online payments. When the customer has entered their card details, they will receive an extra step to verify their payment with their bank, usually via a password. It provides both the merchant and the customer an extra layer of protection against chargebacks and fraud – while facilitating a frictionless and seamless payment experience across different channels.
7. Employee training
Of course, it’s important to ensure that everyone who works in processing payments is aware of the latest regulations and compliances. Usually, regular training and exams are conducted internally to ensure that all employees know how to effectively handle payment data, what to do in a data breach, and effectively inform their customers. Having the right information in the employee knowledge base ensures that everyone is on the right path to crack down on fraud.
The levels of mistrust that dogged the early days of online shopping are largely forgotten. Much of this change can be attributed to the robust and wide-ranging security measures that protect your transaction at each stage of the process.
While payment gateways rightfully focus a lot of resources on cybersecurity, the importance of physical security measures cannot be overlooked. Instead, cybersecurity and physical security measures should be integrated into a robust security suite that continues to allow us to shop online with confidence.
Payment Gateway Regulations in Africa
According to the report of Mckinsey, there are approximately 300-400 million internet users in Africa and by 2030 Africa will be able to access the internet across the continent by the initiative taken by multiple organizations like the United Nations & few private foundations.
Africa has more than $40 billion in revenue generated through E-commerce by 2023 and is expected to cross $67 billion by 2027. South Africa | Nigeria | Kenya dominates the E-commerce market amongst all of the African countries.
Africa has its drawbacks too like poor logistics, digital trust issues, weak infrastructure and so on but after night dawn has to come.
Women are also stepping into businesses across Africa in order to support their family which automatically provide employment to other people and also supports them through buying local African products.
South African banks are fortunate to operate in a highly regulated market that allows them to remain largely untouched by the digital revolution that’s decimating the likes of the print media and the travel and music industries.
The large commercial banks occupy the enviable position as final clearing houses for the SA Reserve Bank, cementing their place in the money supply chain and therefore removing the pressure to be first-movers in the digital game.
This privileged position, however, requires compliance with the strictest of regulations that provide the perfect platform on which the innovators in mobile and convenient payment systems can piggyback.
“The payment gateway providers have been innovative and we love it,” says Arif Ismael, executive for Strategy and Communication at the Payments Association of SA (PASA). “They’re a lot closer to the market, provide what is needed as well as unique opportunities to do new things. It has really mushroomed in the last two years.”
PASA is the industry regulatory authority that oversees the National Payments System, which it does under the authority of the SA Reserve Bank. This system dictates the operation and handling of any payments, with regulations and requirements increasing with the perceived risk of transactions.
Payment gateways are required to register with PASA and are certified according to whether they can handle funds, and how they do it. If, however, their monthly transactions don’t exceed R10 000 or R10 million in value, they fall under the registration threshold and PASA’s oversight. There are currently more than 80 operators registered with PASA.
Ismael says the organization covers about 80% of all payments and payment providers. “There are hundreds of [payment providers] we don’t have a line of sight of because they’re not seen as systemically risky,” he says.
PASA is, however, working with the Reserve Bank to amend the thresholds and regulations and expects this will result in its reach extending to these smaller operators.
“It’s a pretty saturated market already,” says Tielman Botha, Mobility Services lead at Accenture SA. “You have to start being visionary about the fresh things you can bring to the market.”
Accenture has broad experience in both consulting and developing mobile payment systems for customers, with recent research indicating that future success is going to depend on offering something beyond simply a payment channel.
Making Your Decision on Payment Gateways
There are numerous Payment Gateways on the market. When integrating a gateway into your organization, however, you should not pick a random one. Every company that provides online services requires a secure and safe Payment Gateway.
Even yet, making the proper and trustworthy pick might be difficult at times. Apart from comparing Payment Gateway rates, there are various additional considerations to consider when selecting a Payment Gateway for websites. When choosing a Payment Gateway, you must consider the technological and financial components of the solution, as well as the convenience for your customers and the security of the gateway.
Here are several points that must consider before choosing the Payment Gateway to integrate with your website, as follows:
Standards for encryption:
The encryption standard is the next thing to consider and must be prioritized. A Payment Gateway handles the financial details of the customers, and even a single security breach can cause massive destruction to their economic status and your company’s overall reputation.
Therefore, you must ensure that the Payment Gateway integration that you choose has highly effective encryption standards set in place.
In the beginning, you can choose a Payment Gateway API that offers encryption standards like tokenization (to hide the card details completely).
Choosing a secure Payment Gateway eradicates several risks and thus ensures reduced processing charges. It also helps to eliminate the chances of human error and improve reporting visibility.
You never know which device or operating system your customers are using. Thus, it is essential that whichever services you offer are compatible with many devices, including the benefit of access to a Payment Gateway. This will eventually help enhance the overall user base due to the ease of payments
Various Payment Gateways have varied processing times. Still, there is always a need for a processor to obtain and validate the card details in just a few seconds whenever a customer initiates a transaction. Thus, you are also advised to consider the time required by these Payment Gateways while deciding to ensure that you quickly receive your payments and never have to wait much.
Features for reporting:
As per the industry and business you deal with, you need a Payment Gateway with extensive reporting capabilities, thus focusing on this consideration. The Payment Gateway must also provide a feature to let you go through all the transaction activities to help you analyze and complete an overview of the received payments. You might want to check your commissions at any instance, and then the various report formats must be available with the Payment Gateways.
Other security aspects include fraud detection:
Fraud detection is a primary concern you must check for while selecting a Payment Gateway API. Ensure that the chosen Payment Gateway for the website can detect any suspicious behaviors before completing any transaction. This is beneficial for your company as well as for your customers.
Capabilities for billing:
Having a built-in billing feature is another feature that may help your business, and thus you are suggested to choose a Payment Gateway assuring the same. This capability will ensure that the entire payment procedure gets more straightforward, and you no longer have to depend on any third-party services
User interface and usability:
At least once every few days, you will need to connect with your Payment Gateway API for checking transactions, fees, and several high-value data. When such a need arrives, you will surely expect a satisfactory experience. This is why having a Payment Gateway that is easy to access, user-friendly, and straightforward is essential. However, to know which one is the best suited as per your expectations, it is advised to check a few services first and only make the final decision.
Fees and costs:
The final consideration while choosing a Payment Gateway has to be the applicable fees and costs. Based on the array of features provided, the price of the Payment Gateways might vary significantly. Some are available for free, while others are for a few dollars or more. Your decision is dependent on your budget and how well you expect your organization to function.
Payment gateways, which are interfaces used to collect consumer payment information, are an important feature of the digital economy. By allowing customers to safely and securely share their credit card information, these systems reduce some of the barriers to online commerce.
While the first payment gateways consisted of simple card-reading devices, they are now sophisticated systems to collect and authenticate PINs, signatures, and other data for merchant transactions.