Akamai Technologies CSO Andy Ellis calls it a game changer, an advancement in cloud technology that will free merchants from an environment where credit card information is stored in local data centers, waiting to be stolen by data thieves.The Cambridge-based company has unveiled what it calls its Edge Tokenization electronic payment security service. The service allows credit card data to be converted to a token in Akamai's cloud before a Web transaction lands on a merchant's infrastructure. By doing away with the need to route customer credit card data through their infrastructure, it becomes harder for thieves to access the information by breaking into the databases where they've typically been stored."This is a game changer for the entire industry," Ellis said. "This lets customers still take credit cards without having to use something like PayPal. You never see the credit card. We use tokenization and you are not a card holder data environment anymore."Ellis said the service will also reduce compliance risk and lower Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance costs. Edge Tokenization automates credit card tokenization within the Akamai cloud, providing stronger levels of payment security and operational convenience for Web retailers without the need to increase spending on internal infrastructure, Ellis said."PCI DSS compliance has been a cost of doing business and can be substantial. For example, the reported cost for annual compliance assessments can be well into six figures and this does not count the costs to change systems and operations to become compliant," Michael Suby, vice president of research at Stratecast (a division of Frost & Sullivan), said in a statement. "A service like Edge Tokenization offers eCommerce companies an innovative way to reduce these costs while still protecting against card data breaches."As part of the Edge Tokenization launch, Akamai has integrated its cloud technology with tokenization technology from partner CyberSource. The relationship with CyberSource offers Akamai's customers turn-key integration to enterprise payment tokenization services."The nice thing about a token is that to the merchant, the token looks and feels like a credit card," Ellis said. "Inside their environment they can do everything with credit cards that they do today."Several Akamai customers have already been test driving a beta version of the service for nearly a year, though none of them wanted their names released to the public.