Learn More About Network Tokenization and PAR

Learn More About Network Tokenization and PAR
Mark Ericksen Specialist Leader, Payments Deloitte
Jun 15, 2023

Network tokenization is an evolution in payments card data protection and transactional services for remote commerce and wallet-based transactions. Network tokenization is an industry standard published by EMVCo and is open to anyone in the payments ecosystem. First introduced with the launch of Apple Pay and the payment networks, network tokenization is gaining traction in its primary use cases of payments using a card on file and payments through mobile wallets. 

A key challenge network tokens inflict on merchants is that a network token looks different from the processor token you get from your acquirer while both are representations of the same underlying Primary Account Number (PAN), the number printed on a physical card.  For those merchants relying on a consistent token to represent a shopper, the introduction of more than one token type in your environment will complicate that kind of analysis. 

A new data element entered the payment landscape a decade ago called the Payment Account Reference, or PAR.  The PAR is meant to be a constant representation of a PAN even when the PAN is represented by different kinds of tokens or even when the PAN changes due to reissuance.  If merchants relied on PAR for shopper analytics, the merchant would not worry about a mixed token environment.  The PAR is meant to be returned on each card authorization, however support for PAR is still in its infancy and a conversation with your acquirer/gateway/PSP is necessary to determine if and when PAR will be supported and provided in the channels you require.

The Merchant Advisory Group

Driving positive change and innovation in the payments industry that serves the merchants interest through collaboration, education, and advocacy.