PCI Security Council Promoting Visa Rule As Its Own

In a move that is likely to impact retail software vendors a lot more than retail IT people themselves, the PCI Security Council this week said it a key Visa security procedure and making it PCI mandatory for all retailers.

The core reason the promotion of Visa's Payment Application Best Practices (PABP) to the council's Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA DSS) won't have much retail IT impact is that most retailers accept Visa, which means they have likely been following this procedure for years.

But this allows—and indeed forces—vendors creating applications for retailers to precisely comply with this standard or else will soon be unable to sell to those retailers.

In retail security today, "the applications are the weakest link in the chain," said Bob Russo, general manager, PCI Security Standards Council. By requiring vendors to comply, Russo said, he expects this to quickly isolate the few that resist the change.

As a software vendor trying to sell to retail, "you're really going to be conspicuous by your absence," Russo said.

Dave Taylor, the president of the independent PCI Vendor Alliance, agreed with Russo. "This announcement amounts to the promotion of PABP from a single card brand's best practice to an industry standard, which should greatly increase both awareness and compliance by vendors that process card data," Taylor said.

He added that the vendor persuasion is most critical. "It will also cause more merchants to insist that their payment processing hardware, software and service providers are compliant because PA DSS will get much more industry visibility and this will further drive both enforcement and compliance," Taylor said.

Asked why it would that much of a difference given that most of the industry is already doing it, Taylor said it's the distinction between using it as a matter of choice and having it made mandatory.

"There's not the strong demand for PABP compliance and certification among users today," Taylor said. "I expect that PA DSS will really amp that demand up over the next 1-2 years."