Payments Blog • 7 MIN READ

The Role of EMV 3-D Secure for Card Transaction Data

Technology has made shopping online effortless and convenient. With just a few clicks, consumers can access anything they want from the comfort of their homes.

But with convenience comes many risks.

As technology advances, so do the methods employed by cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities in payment systems. Data shows that online shopping scams account for at least 38% of all cybercrime activities worldwide. This is a clear indication that there is a need for proactive measures to prevent fraud and enhance the security of online payments.

This is where EMV 3-D Secure (3DS) technology comes in.

EMV 3DS provides an indispensable shield against potential threats, offering both businesses and consumers the peace of mind they need to engage confidently in the digital marketplace. It uses encrypted data exchanges to let only real cardholders access their accounts while making it almost impossible for cybercriminals to gain access.

But what exactly is EMV 3DS, and how does it work to safeguard online card transactions?

Let’s find out.

What is EMV 3-D Secure (3DS) Technology

EMV 3DS is a global authentication standard that enhances the security of online card transactions. It uses dynamic data exchanges to verify users' identities, reducing the risk of unauthorized transactions and building customer trust.

At its core, EMV 3DS is a global authentication standard, meaning it's used worldwide to verify the identity of cardholders during online transactions. It goes beyond the traditional username and password approach, adding an extra layer of defense against potential cyber threats.

What Is the Difference Between 3D Secure and 2D Secure?

3D Secure and 2D Secure are different security measures for online card transactions. 3D Secure, like EMV 3DS, adds an extra layer of protection by requiring additional authentication, reducing fraud risk, and increasing customer confidence.

In contrast, 2D Secure refers to traditional online transactions that rely only on basic card information, offering simpler processing but potentially less security.

How EMV 3-D Secure Works

EMV 3DS works by adding an extra layer of security to the process of online card transactions. When you make a purchase online, this technology steps in to verify your identity, ensuring that you are the rightful cardholder.

The protocol is activated immediately after you initiate a payment transaction. It involves dynamic data exchanges between you, the merchant, and your card issuer to verify your identity securely.

When you initiate a transaction, the merchant sends a request to your card issuer, asking for authentication of the transaction. Your card issuer then responds with a dynamic authentication challenge, which could be in the form of a one-time password (OTP), a fingerprint scan, or other secure methods.

Each authentication challenge is unique and time-sensitive, making it difficult for cybercriminals to predict or intercept the information. This real-time interaction ensures that you are the one making the transaction and not someone trying to misuse your card details.

Once you successfully complete the authentication challenge, the merchant receives confirmation from your card issuer, and the transaction proceeds smoothly. This collaboration between you, the merchant, and your card issuer creates a secure and seamless authentication flow, adding a robust layer of protection to your online shopping experience.

The Benefits of EMV 3DS for Cardholders

EMV 3DS technology offers a host of benefits for cardholders, significantly enhancing the security of their online card transactions. Here are the key advantages of EMV 3DS for cardholders:

  • Higher transaction security. EMV 3DS adds an extra layer of protection for online purchases. When a cardholder uses it on a supported website, they enter additional authentication details like OTP or biometric data. This real-time verification reduces the risk of unauthorized transactions and thwarts fraudsters from using stolen card information. This is especially useful for high-risk merchants like gambling and offshore businesses.
  • Reduced fraud. EMV 3DS uses dynamic data exchanges between the cardholder, issuer, and merchant. This dynamic authentication process makes it much harder for fraudsters to replicate or intercept authentication information. As a result, cardholders can shop with greater peace of mind, knowing that their sensitive card data is better protected.
  • Convenience and Simplicity. EMV 3DS balances security with a seamless user experience. Cardholders typically complete the authentication step within seconds, ensuring a straightforward, hassle-free process. Some versions even support "frictionless flow" for trusted customers, exempting certain transactions from additional authentication based on low-risk indicators, leading to a smoother checkout process.
  • Global Acceptance and Ubiquity. EMV 3DS is widely accepted and adopted globally, making it a standard security measure for online card transactions across various e-commerce platforms and financial institutions. Cardholders can confidently use their cards for online purchases across borders, knowing that the same robust security measures apply, regardless of the merchant or location.

The Benefits of EMV 3DS for Merchants

  • Reduced Fraud and Chargebacks. 3DS helps verify the identity of the cardholder during online transactions. This added layer of security makes it more challenging for fraudsters to carry out unauthorized transactions, leading to fewer chargebacks and potential losses for the merchant.
  • Increased Customer Trust. EMV 3DS fosters trust between merchants and their customers. With secure authentication in place, shoppers feel more confident about sharing their card details online, knowing that their financial information is protected. As a result, customers are more likely to complete transactions, leading to higher conversion rates and improved customer loyalty.
  • Frictionless User Experience. The latest versions of 3DS support "frictionless flow," which means that low-risk transactions can be authenticated in the background without requiring additional input from the cardholder. This minimizes customer friction during the checkout process, reducing the likelihood of cart abandonment and improving customer experience.
  • Regulatory Compliance. EMV 3DS helps merchants meet regulatory compliance requirements, including those set by card networks and data protection authorities. For instance, EMV 3DS also aligns with the PCI requirements. Compliance with PCI DSS is crucial for businesses that handle cardholder data. All merchants are required to encrypt the transmission of cardholder data across public networks. This ensures that sensitive cardholder information remains safe and secure.
  • Fraud Liability Shift. Another benefit for merchants is the potential for a fraud liability shift. In some cases, when a transaction is 3DS authenticated and still results in fraud, the liability may shift from the merchant to the card issuer. This can provide an added layer of financial protection for merchants against certain types of fraud.
  • Risk-Based Authentication. EMV 3DS allows for risk-based authentication, enabling merchants to tailor the level of security based on transaction risk factors. Low-risk transactions can be streamlined, while high-risk ones receive more stringent authentication. This flexibility allows merchants to balance security with a smooth user experience.


The role of EMV 3DS in safeguarding online card transactions cannot be overstated. With the ever-increasing prevalence of e-commerce and digital payments, it plays a key role in preventing fraud and ensuring seamless payment processes. Through its advanced security features and multi-factor authentication, EMV 3DS ensures that only legitimate cardholders are granted access to make transactions, significantly reducing the risk of unauthorized purchases and chargebacks. This heightened level of security not only safeguards merchants from potential financial losses but also instills a sense of trust and confidence in customers, encouraging them to embrace online shopping with peace of mind.

Topics: Payments Transact Transaction analytics Security Cards

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