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What is a Device Account Number?

What is a Device Account Number?

Jan 26, 2024
Henry Williams

A device account number is crucial to the functioning of Apple Pay. By replacing customer card details with this unique and unrelated number sequence, merchants can take streamlined and secure payments. 

According to the latest data from Statista, over 507 million iPhone users have enabled Apple Pay worldwide, equating to 48% of the user base. Apple Pay has seen the highest penetration in the UK, Canada, and the US, with over 30% of users choosing Apple Pay for online payments in all three markets.

This widespread adoption makes device account numbers a vital component of the online economy and the security of online payments. As a merchant, you should understand how DANs work and why they benefit your business. 

Device account number explained

When an iPhone user adds a new card to Apple Pay, the mobile wallet replaces their sensitive card details with a unique and device-specific device account number (DAN). This number is created by the user’s card issuer, encrypted, and delivered to Apple so that it can be stored on their device. 

As the DAN is unique and completely unrelated to the number on their plastic card, it can only be used to make payments with that specific device. This means that it’s very hard for criminals to steal it and use it to make fraudulent transactions.  

Even Apple cannot decrypt and read a DAN, and it only stores a portion of the actual card number and a portion of the DAN. For added security, all device account numbers for Apple Pay are stored in the Secure Element (an industry-standard, certified chip). DANs are never stored on Apple Servers or backed up to iCloud. 

How does a DAN work in online payments?

When a consumer uses Apple Pay, their DAN is shared with you, the merchant, instead of their actual card number.

Apple re-encrypts the customer’s already encrypted transaction information with a developer-specific key, before sending it on to your payment processor alongside the DAN. This key ensures that only you can decrypt the transaction data in order to take the payment. 

How do I find my Apple Pay device account number?

iPhone users can find their DAN by following these steps:

  1. Open Apple Wallet
  2. Choose a payment card
  3. Click ‘card details’ or ‘I’ information, which may drop down from the menu in the top right of the screen or appear in the lower right of the screen
  4. The last four digits of the DAN will be displayed under Apple Pay

How does Apple Pay tokenization work?

Tokenization is the process of replacing sensitive card information with a meaningless sequence of numbers. This token can be used to make payments instead of genuine card details, which could be stolen and exploited by fraudsters. 

The DAN is simply the tokenized representation of a user’s card. When a customer enters their card details or takes a picture of their card in order to store it in their digital wallet, Apple identifies the user’s issuing bank from the BIN number and asks it to generate a payment token. For this to work, the issuing bank must be a member of the Apple Pay network.

The issuing bank then asks the token service provider (TSP), typically the card scheme associated with the card, to create a token. The TSP generates a token, stores the token and actual Primary Account Number (PAN) in its token vault, and sends the token and token key (which decrypts the token) to the issuing bank. At this point a CVV-Key is created, which facilitates authorization. The issuer then sends the token, key, and CVV-Key back to Apple, which stores all three values on the Secure Element of the user’s device.

Why is a device account number important?

The device account number presents a number of benefits to merchants, including:

  • Fights fraud - previously, card-not-present (CNP) fraud was a big risk during online payments, because PANs could easily be stolen and used to make fraudulent payments. With a DAN, this is not possible, because the card details are tokenized, and the DAN can only be used with the associated device. A hacker would have to also access the device’s authentication factors or the token key to exploit a DAN, which is next to impossible
  • Improves compliance and reduces security burden - because you’re not responsible for storing, decrypting, and processing the customer’s actual card number, the costs and administrative burden around securing payment data is significantly reduced. This, in turn, makes it much easier to comply with industry security standards, helping to avoid breaches and any associated penalties
  • More sales - by underpinning the security of digital wallet payments, DANs are enabling the rise of what is set to become the most popular online payment method. By meeting consumer preferences for speed, security, and convenience, digital wallet payments are increasing acceptance, and therefore sales, for online merchants

Why to choose Apple Pay for your business

As stated in the introduction, Apple Pay is a very widely used method of payment for online consumers. And while it competes with the likes of AliPay and WeChat Pay in the Asian Market, Apple Pay is the most popular mobile payment method in the US and the UK. Consumers like to be able to pay using their preferred payment method, and doing so builds trust with the merchant and increases the chance of a successful transaction. Merchants that don’t accept Apple Pay could be missing out on a massive proportion of potential sales.

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Speak to a member of our sales team to discover how you can use Apple Pay to boost customer satisfaction, increase sales, and reduce chargebacks today. Or to build a more detailed understanding of how to implement it with you can review our Apple Pay documentation.

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January 26, 2024 16:52
January 26, 2024 16:52