What is 3D Secure authentication? A complete guide

Product Information 1 December 2017

You’ve probably come across 3D Secure authentication when shopping online without knowing it. Commonly used by online retailers, it’s a fraud prevention measure that helps to protect businesses and customers from having their details stolen when making online purchases.

Find out everything you need to know about 3D Secure authentication and how you can implement it on your website. It means you can make sure online transactions are safe for you and your customers.

What is 3D Secure authentication?

3D Secure authentication is a system backed by major card providers, designed to protect customers and retailers during online transactions. Originally launched by Visa in 2001 as Verified-by-Visa, Mastercard has also adopted its own version (Mastercard Secure Code), and American Express launched American Express SafeKey in 2010.

There are three main aspects involved in 3D Secure:

  • The retailer
  • The retailer’s bank
  • The card provider that the purchase is being made from (Visa or Mastercard)

When a customer buys something on a retailer’s site that uses 3D Secure, before the transaction is processed they will be redirected to the card provider’s site.

Depending on the circumstances, they may be asked for a password, which they will have previously set up with the card provider, or they might have to enter an authentication code that has been sent to their mobile. Sometimes, they won’t need to enter any details at all.

Once the payment is approved by the card provider, the customer will be directed back to the retailer’s site and receive confirmation everything has gone through successfully.

What are the benefits of using 3D Secure?

3D Secure authentication provides security for both retailers and customers who are shopping online.  

Once a transaction has passed through the 3D Secure authorisation process, the liability for the purchase is transferred from the retailer to the card provider. This means that if the customer claims they didn’t authorise the transaction, the card provider is responsible for refunding their money.

Merchants are therefore protected against unauthorised transaction chargebacks, and won’t lose out if there are any fraudulent issues regarding a payment. Beyond the financial benefit, it also means retailers have fewer potential disputes to settle with customers – saving time and money.  

3D Secure gives customers an extra level of security when making purchases, as they’ll know that their card is better protected from fraudulent activity. This can increase trust and boost confidence when shopping on your site.

What cards can be accepted through 3D Secure?

3D Secure authentication is used by Visa (Verified by Visa), Mastercard (Mastercard SecureCode), and American Express (American Express SafeKey). Any debit or credit card from these providers can be subject to 3D Secure when used online.

Card providers will communicate with customers and take care of the details regarding passwords and authentication codes, and so retailers don’t need to take any additional action.

Are there any limits to using 3D Secure?

While it helps to give your business an added layer of security, 3D authentication doesn’t provide all-encompassing protection. You’ll still need your own security measures in place to ensure your business complies with the PCI (Payment Card Industry) Standard – these are security rules for merchants around storing, processing and transmitting card data set out by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCISSC).

Find out more about how we can help you to complete the self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ) quickly and easily with our PCI compliance phone validation service, so you can avoid costly mistakes and stay compliant for the year, with easy renewal.

How to equip your business with 3D Secure authentication

If your business accepts payments online and you want to ensure that you and your customers are protected, our payment gateway and virtual terminal packages include 3D Secure for Visa and Mastercard as standard. They are also tier 1 PCI DSS compliant, with CSC, CV2 and AVS security checks and direct API or hosted integration options.

With quick and reliable service, we can have your online payment gateway up and ready to go in as little as 24 hours. Get a free online quote or contact us to find out more about how we can help you to integrate 3D Secure into your business.

Leave a Reply

Your choice regarding cookies on this site

We use cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. Manage Cookie preferences

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better.

You can use this tool to change your cookie settings. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

For more information visit our Cookie page


Necessary Cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website.