Saturday, 22 Jun 2024

P2Pe vs E2EE: Which Encryption Standard Should You Choose?

point to point encryption vs end to end encryption

If your business accepts card payments, ensuring the security of cardholder data is crucial. Encryption plays a vital role in data protection, and two commonly used standards for encrypting data are E2EE and P2PE compliance. This article will provide an in-depth comparison of P2PE vs E2EE, helping you choose the right encryption standard for your business needs.

What is P2PE?

P2PE stands for point-to-point encryption, a standard established by the PCI Security Standards Council. P2PE focuses on safeguarding physical point-of-sale equipment, such as card terminals, and protecting cardholder data. The standard involves using secure third-party connections to link sales terminals with payment processing systems. Data is encrypted at one end and decrypted at the other, with the third-party processor ensuring security during transfer.

Implementing P2PE requirements helps defend against data breaches and physical tampering, enhancing customer security.

What is E2EE?

E2EE stands for end-to-end encryption. Similar to P2PE, E2EE also encrypts data from one end to another. However, in this case, the link is indirect. In E2EE, a single entity encrypts cardholder data at the point of payment, and the encrypted data is transferred through a network to the payment processor. Unlike P2PE, the network does not review the data, leaving it encrypted until it reaches the processor, who then decodes it.

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In the E2EE process, encryption can be performed by any single party, whether internal or external. On the other hand, P2PE involves a direct third-party link that manages the entire process.

P2PE vs E2EE Standards

When comparing P2PE vs E2EE, several key differences exist in terms of security standards and compliance.

  1. Security Rules

P2PE systems adhere to specific standards outlined in the instruction manual. Businesses must conduct annual inventory checks and monthly site checks to ensure their POS equipment meets P2PE compliance and standards. For example, installing cameras in physical premises with terminals to monitor access is required. E2EE does not have such strict rules for businesses.

  1. Encryption Process

With E2EE, businesses have the flexibility to choose which data to encrypt. PCI compliance mandates that all cardholder data be encrypted, but smaller details like headers can be decided by the business. P2PE encryption must adhere to all PCI standards for data storage and transport. In P2PE, a third-party transaction processor holds the encryption keys, whereas an E2EE system allows the merchant to hold them.

  1. Liability

While an E2EE system offers greater flexibility for the merchant, it also places full liability on them if data is lost or stolen. With E2EE, businesses choose how to encrypt the data, and if a breach occurs, they are responsible. In contrast, P2PE systems undergo formal assessment at each stage, with the P2PE network assuming liability for providing a secure process.

Which Standard Should You Choose?

Choosing between P2PE and E2EE depends on the size of your business and the volume of card transactions. Larger businesses are likely to benefit from P2PE as it outsources compliance to a third-party network, ensuring consistency across multiple locations.

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On the other hand, small businesses can opt for an E2EE system, which requires less processing time and is cost-effective. P2PE, being more complex, tends to have a higher cost than E2EE. Consider your business’s infrastructure and data handling volume to make the right choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How does P2PE differ from E2EE?
A: P2PE involves a direct third-party link managing the encryption process, while E2EE allows any single party to encrypt the data.

Q: Who assumes liability in P2PE and E2EE systems?
A: In P2PE, the P2PE network is liable for providing a secure process, whereas in E2EE, the merchant assumes full liability for data protection.

Q: Which encryption standard is more suitable for small businesses?
A: Small businesses can benefit from an E2EE system due to its lower cost and less time-intensive setup.


Understanding the differences between P2PE and E2EE encryption standards is essential for any business handling cardholder data. While both standards provide security, their implementation and liability aspects vary. By evaluating your business’s needs and transaction volume, you can choose the encryption standard that best aligns with your requirements and ensures the protection of sensitive data.

Learn more about encryption standards and data security at Eireview.