Times are changing and new technologies come and go with their flow. As long as we continue developing cutting edge solutions for eCommerce businesses, we are destined to revise constantly what’s on the agenda today and what’s outdated even if it was widely spread yesterday. Technologies that come along with the changes are even more subjected to variations, and this is the reason why I begin the story about payment gateways.
Payment systems are crucial for aheadWorks and we can’t overlook their upgrades when they are made, since one of our best-selling extension, Subscriptions and Recurring Payments, is entirely dependent on how these systems (PayPal, ePay, Authorize.Net, Argofire Payment and others) work. With the SARP extension merchants can accept recurring payments and sell subscription products in their Magento stores easy and efficiently.
A lot of eCommerce solutions with subscription offers are based on token payments and have been successfully proceeding with this type of payments for a long time. It is no more a case nowadays, because current payment systems move away from token payments to other payment methods.
What are they and why does it happen?
Token payments drawbacks
First of all, let’s examine how token payments are functioning. Generally, they allow processing many transactions without storing customer credit card details. It means, if I run an online store with subscription options, I request credit card information from a customer and transfer this data to payment system my store is connected with. The system converts credit card data into payment profile and returns its ID to me in the form of the number or hash (let’s call it 'profile ID'). Each time a customer has to pay for products he is subscribed to, I manually submit his profile ID to a payment gateway and specify the amount of money to be deducted.
Token payments are obviously insecure: numerous fraudsters can intercept the profile ID with merchant’s payment gateway API credentials and write off money as much as they want.
To eliminate this problem, payment systems one by one switch to their own subscription services, when a merchant just enters client card data and defines the schedule for the system to execute payment process. For instance, the schedule can be 'deduct $3 once a week' or 'charge $100 every other day'. Thereby, a payment system serves subscription, conducts payments and monitors the proper execution of schedule logic on its own.
Besides that, transition to automatic self-organization of payment enables merchants to manage subscriptions from their accounts. It looks like this: a store owner logs in to his PayPal account and checks out correlations between schedules with payments and subscription profiles.
Moreover, operating on their own, payment systems provide merchants with additional features like offering customers trial subscriptions, when for a certain period of time clients get products at lower prices, absolutely for free or for initial subscription cost.
As a Result...
Summarizing all said above, payment systems abandon the use of token payments for subscription process and move to their own self-organized automatic services.
This transition is beneficial for eCommerce merchants due to the increased security of client card information, ability to manage subscriptions and the most important – making payments systems responsible for subscription execution.
In a couple of weeks we will release the 2.0 update of our Subscriptions and Recurring Payments extension that will embrace these changes and will be compatible with all PayPal services including Express Checkout and Authorize.net’s ARB. It won’t support token payments as it did before, but instead will provide integration with systems own payment services.
Do not worry – we will surely announce the big release of the SARP new version in our blog. Subscribe to our blog by RSS or via Email and be one of the first merchants to work with updated subscriptions payments.