United States

PCI security standards: A high-level overview

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Many merchants often have difficulty understanding how they must comply with Payment Card Industry (PCI) security standards. For example, some assume that PCI applies only to certain businesses or service providers. Banks that outsource credit and debit card processing also may be uncertain about compliance requirements. Questions may further arise if a bank does not issue credit or debit cards at all.

Merchants that accept credit cards for transactions often struggle to determine exactly what they must do to be PCI compliant. And, now with the standard being updated more frequently, many merchants are at a loss to keep with PCI changes. The most recent version of the standard, version 3.2, came out this year, and is already in force.

For example, even if a community bank knows it must comply, understanding which guidelines are applicable to the institution can be a challenge. However, noncompliance can result in significant financial penalties and reputational damage to the bank. In addition, customer accounts could also be compromised.

This white paper examines how PCI standards affect different types of merchants and financial institutions, such as retailers, restaurants and hotels, and banks, under what circumstances, and which standards should be followed in certain situations.

Bringing systems into compliance with PCI standards has key intangible benefits for an institution. Customer satisfaction grows when customer data is secure, as customers trust the bank with their sensitive card information. When a customer trusts an institution, they are much more likely to remain loyal to it. In addition, compliance enhances an institution’s reputation with processing partners such as acquirers and merchants that will feel more confident doing business with the bank.    

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