More than 300 T.G.I. Friday's restaurants plan to use a payment card security method that masks sensitive transaction data with a numerical token, according to Merchant Link, the company providing the service.

The restaurant chain's use of the service, known as TransactionVault, marks a change in how corporate-owned restaurants process transactions, Merchant Link said. The T.G.I. Friday's restaurants no longer will store payment data on a computer server inside each restaurant. Instead, they will maintain the information on Merchant Link's payment gateway, said Dan Lane, Merchant Link's chief technology officer.

The deal was announced last week. T.G.I. Friday's is a unit of Carlson Restaurants Worldwide.

A numerical token the gateway assigns to each transaction replaces the actual card data. Merchants may use the token to handle chargebacks instead of actual card data, Lane said. They also may use the token to generate transaction reports, which otherwise would require actual card data, he said. Merchant Link, of Silver Spring, Md., collects a per-transaction fee from TransactionVault activity.

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