The Current State of PCI DSS Compliance


As a merchant, there are several key terms that must be understood in order to streamline the transaction process between all involved parties. 

First and foremost, a payment processor is the party that ensures that the transaction process runs smoothly. This requires communicating between a bank and a merchant in order to ensure that the latter party gets their earned monetary sum. A trusted payment processor also ensures that payments are received on time and the transfer of funds between different parties is quick and secure. 

As for an issuer, it refers to a card owner’s bank. The bank is responsible for collecting payments from the customer, as well as approving transactions and sending a merchant’s earnings to their bank account. On this note, an acquirer is a bank that manages a merchant’s account and allows for the acceptance of credit card and debit card transactions. 

For merchants, there is a set of standards to follow in order to ensure the safety and security of the information belonging to all parties involved in the transaction process. This is in the form of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance.

It should be noted that PCI DSS is not a fixed checklist. Rather, it is a standard that changes with the evolving merchant landscape. In fact, on December 4, 2019, the PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) published a new standard to suit the needs of contactless payment methods. This pertains to cardholders who use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) payment methods such as smartphones and tablets. With this standard, called the PCI Contactless Payments on COTS (CPoC) program, merchants can work with payment processing vendors to get the latest lab-tested technology. 

“Contactless, or tap and go, payment adoption is on the rise globally, and merchants want affordable, flexible and safe options for contactless payment acceptance that allow them to best serve their customers,” Troy Leach, the senior vice-president at PCI SSC, said in the press release detailing the contactless standard update.

He added that in addition to the PCI software solutions that allow for contactless payments, the council’s standards and program allows merchants to use tested solutions that do not require additional hardware.

An example of a party that follows PCI DSS compliance is Visa. There are certain types of merchants defined by Visa that help determine compliance levels. The first level pertains to merchants who process over six million transactions using Visa on an annual basis. Meanwhile, level two pertains to merchants who need to process between one to six million transactions annually. As for the third level, it pertains to 20,000 to one million e-commerce transactions. Level four affects merchants who process less than 20,000 Visa transactions annually when it comes to e-commerce.  

Visa also makes a point to inform merchants about customer card data protection through the use of EMV chip technology. According to a study conducted by Visa, the use of cards with EMV chip technology is on the rise, and the use of it has reduced counterfeit fraud by 76% after merchants agreed to a chip upgrade. The study also found that the number of merchants who use the technology has increased by 219% between the start of October 2015 and the end of March 2019. To encourage the move toward chip technology and the continual use of it, Visa has put forth a Technology Innovation Program (TIP). When 75% of a merchant’s yearly transactions are from dual-interface EMV chip-enabled terminals, then the requirement to verify PCI DSS compliance is eliminated. 

Ensuring the security and protection of cardholder information in the form of names, service codes, and expiration dates among other sensitive information is integral to any business. Merchant Broker has an experienced team that is determined to find the best payment processor for each and every client. The company works with top payment processing companies in North America, and is dedicated to finding the best rates on the market.

To get in touch with the Merchant Broker team, contact either 1-888-668-0733 or


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