Basic Facts about 3D Secure Authentication Security Technology

So what is 3-D Secure technology, and why is it so important for online merchants, shoppers, and credit/debit card users in general?

At its core, 3-D Secure is an XML-based protocol developed and designed to provide an extra layer of security for debit and credit card transactions conducted over the Internet. This technology will impact online merchants and shoppers since most Internet-based businesses and transactions often involve using credit or debit cards.

Originally developed by Arcot Systems, Inc., the first major credit card company to ever deploy the system was Visa under the handle “Verified by Visa.” The company’s main intention for deploying the program is to improve security for online-based payments and business transactions. Soon after that, other major credit card names followed suit and deployed their own 3D Secure versions based on the same protocol; MasterCard with their “MasterCard SecureCode,” JCB International with the “J/Secure,” and most recently, American Express with its “American Express SafeKey.”

How the 3D Secure Payment Method Works


If you are a credit card holder of any of the four institutions mentioned above and are registered to either one of their respective 3-D Secure authentication systems, every time you pay for something online using your credit card, there will be an extra step or process you will have to complete in order to finish the transaction.

The process goes like this: once you have entered all the required credit card information in the check out page of an online store, a new window/page will appear, requiring additional information like your personal security code. This additional window is essentially the 3-D Secure page. And depending on your credit card provider, the page will bear the name of any of the four systems with the 3-D Secure protocol.

This page will connect you with your banking institution, where the information you provided will be authenticated within mere seconds. The process will not only authenticate the information provided, but confirm the identity of the individual making the purchase as well during the time of the purchase.

3-D Secure is one of the most recent security measures to be deployed that allow online merchants to fight fraud and make Internet-based payments a lot safer and more secure for online shoppers and credit card holders. There are two key benefits that can be gained through 3-D Secure authentication; first, it creates and develops a certain level of consumer trust and belief in the safety and security of online shopping. Second, it significantly reduces disputes and fraudulent activities.

The 3-D Secure Authentication System Explained Further

As stated above, 3-D Secure is a transaction processing safety measure that is designed to add an extra level of security in the online payment process. It is a fraud prevention security precaution utilized by most major credit card merchants, banking institutions, and online-based businesses that require credit cards as the primary means of payment.

3-D Secure is also used by a number of reputable online payment solutions providers like Sage Pay and SecurePay, which caters to online-based merchants and businesses, providing them with easier and safer ways to accept payments from customers.

The 3D in 3-D Secure actually stands for 3-Domain Server, meaning there are three parties involved in the 3-D Secure process whenever a transaction is being made online; the merchant where the purchase is being made, the banking institution, and the credit/debit card issuers themselves (Visa, MasterCard, JCB International, or American Express).

The American Express SafeKey

The most recent credit card provider to deploy their own version of the 3-D Secure protocol is American Express. And just like Verified by Visa, MasterCard SecureCode, and J/Secure, the American Express SafeKey is designed as a fraud prevention tool as well. It is offered to all customers who use credit cards issued by American Express, providing additional protection to individual shoppers and businesses.

Similar to the other versions of 3-D Secure protocol, SafeKey offers extra security through password protection. Consumers who have an American Express card are given the opportunity to assign a unique password to their card so that whenever they use it for online purchases, there will be an additional verification process that they must complete to finalize the transaction.

When you purchase something online, you are required to enter your payment method at the checkout screen. And since the transaction is online-based, most people will select the credit card payment option. Shoppers then have to provide their credit card information in order to complete the transaction, and that’s usually it. However, with the 3-D Secure authentication system, once you have provided the appropriate credit card details, you will be taken to another page. In this case, you will be directed to the American Express SafeKey page.

On the SafeKey page, you will be asked to confirm specific details about the transaction currently being processed, such as the business name of the online merchant, the amount that will be charged to your account, the date of the transaction, the last few digits of your credit card number, a unique message that’s known only to you and your banking institution, and your SafeKey or password.

After you have entered your SafeKey and clicked the “Submit” button, the transaction will then proceed with the authentication process as normal.


The Benefits of Using American Express SafeKey:

  • Extra protection for card holders and merchants – The system serves as a fraud prevention tool that applies to both the American Express card holder and the online business that utilizes the authentication method on its website.
  • No added cost to the card holder and the merchant – Utilizing the American Express SafeKey requires no extra fees. This is a completely free security precaution that all American Express card holders can avail of.

User-friendly – Card holders and businesses will find that SafeKey is easy to manage and control, just like Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode.