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The Green Sheet Online Edition

January 23, 2012 • Issue 12:01:02

Research Rundown

Acquirers tackle Level 4 PCI compliance

Despite ongoing concerns over Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) compliance among Level 4 merchants, a recent survey suggests acquirers have made tremendous progress toward Level 4 compliance. In Benchmarking Level 4 Merchant PCI Compliance: The Acquirer's Perspective, ControlScan and Merchant Acquirer's Committee interviewed over 146 banks, processors and ISOs, and found 94 percent have a PCI program in place for their Level 4 merchants.

"Over the last three years, ControlSan has extensively studied the viewpoints of small merchants regarding PCI compliance," stated Joan Herbig, Chief Executive Officer at ControlScan. "For the first time, we are benchmarking the experiences of acquirers in helping small merchants comply with the PCI DSS."

Herbig said that while recent research has broadened the topic of PCI compliance, it has been from the standpoint of larger Level 1 and 2 merchants, with little applicability to the challenges faced by smaller Level 4 merchants. "This study shines a light specifically on this segment," she noted.

According to the study, 64 percent of acquirers surveyed have had PCI programs in place for two years or less, 81 percent outsource some or all of their PCI compliance programs to third-party providers, and 54 percent claim overall merchant portfolio compliance rates of 41 percent or higher. Key attributes of respondents who reported high PCI compliance rates included frequent monitoring, a suite of PCI tools and outsourcing of compliance programs.

"Some of the most common questions we receive from acquirers, as a PCI compliance and security solutions provider, revolve around whether or not their peers charge PCI program and noncompliance fees," Herbig said. "Since the study directly addresses these topics, we can now speak definitively to standard practices by acquirers serving Level 4 merchants."

Of those surveyed, only 12 percent reported not charging a fee to merchants for participation in PCI compliance programs, and 52 percent charged noncompliance fees to encourage merchants to achieve PCI compliance.

To view a copy of the benchmark study visit

"To be frank, we are pleasantly surprised at the optimism that is being generated by over 1,000 of our small business clients. Optimism about their business and the economy and their ability to grow sales has not been apparent in recent months or years. We attribute this optimism to the recent headline drop in the unemployment rate, the growth in consumer spending and small gains in hiring in the fourth quarter. Whether this optimism will continue in the first quarter of 2012 is anyone's guess."

- - Barry Sloane, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Small Business Authority
Source: SB Authority Market Sentiment Survey, December 2011

E-tail payment barriers

A survey report by Javelin Strategy & Research titled, Why Consumers Don't Pay: Opportunities for Digital Commerce, 2011 Online Payment Poll, revealed 79 percent of respondents would make online purchases, increasing spending by as much as $89 per month, if safer and easier payment options than credit or debit cards were presented. According to the poll, concerns about credit card-related fraud and security remain a barrier to e-commerce progress.

Bar code revolution

A white paper by Motorola Inc., Cashing in on the Mobile Bar Code Revolution, asserts that with over 5 billion mobile phones being used by 70 percent of the world's population, now is the time to capitalize on customer- and retail-driven adoption of mobile bar code programs. With the capacity to store electronic bar codes, mobile devices can be used by retailers to create virtual loyalty cards, gift cards and coupons to trigger sales, the company stated.

Going global, online

For many online merchants, localizing websites to appeal to foreign markets presents unique challenges. A Cybersource Corp. white paper, Global Payment Options: Payment Methods in Select Countries, offers insights on country-specific payment preferences, e-commerce sales volume and growth rates, and number of online shoppers to help businesses expand into such markets as Brazil, Canada, China, France and others.

end of article

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