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What’s the difference between a general-purpose HSM and payment HSM?

The use cases fulfilled by HSMs tend to be oriented toward either general-purpose encryption or payment encryption. Both involve running cryptographic operations inside the HSM’s secure boundary, but there are some major differences. Payment HSMs are tailored toward the high-performance environments of the payment industry: payment processors, issuing and acquiring banks, and fintech companies. They carry out specialized use cases centered around encrypting and processing payment data. This type of data requires payment HSMs to meet specific compliance requirements, such as those of PCI. General-purpose HSMs, on the other hand, are geared more toward securing communications, managing or authenticating identities, and managing encryption keys. However, some general-purpose HSMs can manage payment keys, and can use many of the same algorithms of a payment HSM.

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