The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards can seem like a maze to navigate for small businesses. But complying with these rules is not only non-negotiable, it’s also essential.

Compliance helps reduce risks for your business, including data breaches, fines, card replacement costs and brand damage. But what are PCI compliance services exactly and why are they important?

Protecting Cardholder Data

One of the most important reasons for businesses to become PCI compliant is that it can help protect cardholder data. This includes information that is stored on computer systems and mobile devices, as well as in physical files.

One way to protect this data is by using secure encryption and ensuring that systems are up-to-date with the latest security updates. Another way to protect this information is by limiting access to it. Those who do have access to this data should be given unique logins and credentials to reduce the risk of a breach.

Avoiding Fines

As the Internet era grew in maturity, it gave businesses the ability to process credit card payments remotely. This opened up new avenues of commerce, but also exposed companies to increased risks. Hackers became more adept at stealing credit card information from insecure networks and payment systems, leading to data breaches that can have catastrophic consequences for both customers and business owners.

PCI compliance is essential for any company that handles credit card information. The best way to ensure you are compliant is by completing a self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ). These questionnaires vary in scope and are tailored as needed for the different ways a company interacts with credit card data.

Keeping Customers Satisfied

As more and more consumers lose trust in companies following large data breaches, maintaining PCI compliance gives you a competitive edge. A study by the Ponemon Institute found that 35% of consumers would stop doing business with an organization that experienced a data breach and 23% would tell others not to use them as well.

Keeping up with PCI standards can be complicated, but working with a trusted credit card processor or security company can make the process much easier. Create a committee or team with members from all departments to keep tabs on PCI requirements; an interdepartmental approach will help your whole organization understand the importance of protecting payment card data.

Getting A Competitive Edge

With the high costs of data breaches, fines and reputational damage that can be incurred from noncompliance, demonstrating strong PCI compliance can help you get a competitive edge over your competition. Customers will perceive businesses that are compliant as more trustworthy and may be willing to vouch for them.

Being PCI compliant also helps strengthen your overall security posture. For instance, PCI compliance requires periodic security testing and penetration assessments to identify and correct technical vulnerabilities. These types of assessments are often the first step towards other regulatory compliance such as ISO 27001 and SOC 2.