What is PCI compliance?

We outline what the compliance standards are and why you need to know them

If you're wondering exactly what is PCI compliance, the chances are you're one of the many business owners in Australia who've asked themselves this same question. Before answering this question, it's useful to begin by looking at what PCI (and its counterpart DSS) stands for — Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards.

These are a set of requirements that must be followed by all companies and merchants accepting payment from customers via credit or debit card. If you're a business owner or operator and you accept, process, transmit or store cardholder data, then you're required to comply with PCI Security Standards to ensure a secure payment card environment. PCI compliance is expected of all Australian business, irrespective of their size.

The goal of PCI compliance is to ensure that merchants provide the maximum security when processing customer payments or handling customer data. An independent body, named the PCI Security Standard Council (PCI SSC), was created in 2006 to manage and administer the PCI DSS.

This body, however, is not tasked with enforcing compliance and this is primarily the duty of the payment card brands and the acquiring banks, along with retailers and small businesses themselves. Major card brands such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express, played a role in the development of the PCI standards.

In understanding “What is PCI compliance?” one of the key things that business owners are trying to determine is whether or not being compliant is necessary. For the small business owner, the process may seem complicated and time consuming. However, all businesses, big and small, must comply with PCI standards if they plan to accept and process payments via credit or debit cards.

Some of the benefits of following the standards set by PCI compliance include the following:

  • Being compliant with the PCI DSS demonstrates that your customers’ private information is protected, so they can entrust their credit card payments to you without needing to worry about the security of their data.

  • Compliance with PCI DSS enhances your business reputation and is held in high regard by banks and credit card companies — the very same corporations that help you do business and help you to gain customers trust.

  • Following the PCI security standards helps you to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to enhance the shopping experience for your customers - and a genuine desire to protect their data by preventing security breaches.

If your business doesn't remain compliant, you may not have the protection you need to prevent your customers' data being accessed without authorisation. A single security breach could do massive damage to your business reputation, which may result in loss of sales and significant loss in profits.

So if you're wondering "What is PCI compliance?" — the answer is this. PCI is a means of building customers’ trust and protecting your business against damaging leaks of confidential customer information. Looking after your customers by being PCI compliant will help to ensure continued growth of your business and reinforce goodwill with your customers.

Recommended reading:
PCI compliance checklist
PCI compliance services in Australia
PCI compliance requirements for Aussie businesses
Understanding PCI compliance auditing

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Tags PCI compliancesecurityPCI Security Standard Council (PCI SSC)PCI Security Standard CouncilPayment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)PCI DSS

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