PCI DSS compliance regulations apply to any business that store payment card data and process card transactions be it over the phone or online. In modern enterprise, this encompasses a lot of businesses. But what does PCI DSS compliance mean for start-ups? And what can they do to ensure that they reach the appropriate compliance standards and avoid infringements or worse still, a data breach?
Why should start ups become PCI compliant?
Achieving PCI compliance is great for your reputation. As data security becomes a bigger issue around the world, reaching the appropriate standard of PCI compliance reassures your customers and suppliers that you take data protection seriously and gives you an edge over competitors to aid business growth and success.
What isn’t so great for your reputation is a data breach. SMEs are more frequently falling victim to cyber-attacks, seen as easier to target because of their less robust security systems. Damage to your brand is what you really don’t need when you’re trying to get a business off the ground, nor is the hefty fine you’d receive if you fell victim to an attack without secure systems in place.
Going through the process of becoming compliant will give you a good understanding of your business’s card payment processes so you have a better chance of being able to identify gaps and fix weaknesses as your business grows to make that dreaded data breach much less likely.
Merchant levels and what is required
The Payment Card Industry has devised ‘merchant levels’, determined by the volume of card transactions that a business processes, which set out the standard of security that is required as well as the method by which a business becomes PCI compliant.
As a start-up, it’s unlikely that at the beginning you will receive a high volume of transactions and as such, the self-assessment process is enough to achieve PCI DSS compliance. This involves completing a Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) and an Attestation of Compliance form provided by your acquiring bank. The PCI Security Standards Council has guidance for those businesses looking to go through self assessment – https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/pci_security/completing_self_assessment.
While self-assessment can seem like a simple route to achieving compliance, it’s not always straight forward. Sometimes identifying the right self-assessment questionnaire for your business can be a challenge in its own right.
When you’re short of money and time
Launching a start-up company requires extensive resources and often means ploughing money and time into getting the business off the ground. Setting up payment card processing systems that comply with PCI DSS regulations from scratch can be time consuming and if it’s not your area of expertise then it’s likely to take even longer, at a time when your energy could be better spent elsewhere. We know this is why businesses often put off addressing their PCI compliance. Especially for start-ups, it can often seem unimportant in relation to other areas of the business.
The solution is to look at outsourcing options either to a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) to carry out the self-assessment questionnaire on your behalf or alternatively to a PCI compliance specialist to take on your card payment processes.
At PCI Telecom, we create bespoke card payment solutions for payments over the phone or online specific to your business. All of our solutions integrate seamlessly with other systems and databases and have PCI DSS Level 1 accreditation which means that you can descope your business from its PCI DSS compliance responsibilities, shifting them over to us instead. So you get a card payments process that works for you AND you achieve PCI compliance all in one hit, plus peace of mind so that you can focus your energy on developing your product and service.