What is the PCI Data Security Standard and why should I care?

Tag: businesses


What is the PCI Data Security Standard and why should I care?

PCI Data Security Standard or PCI DSS are the standards governing credit card industry. The task of administration of these standards is entrusted to the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council. The main aim of these standards is to create a safe environment for credit card transactions and minimize the risk of financial frauds. While credit card protection is vital for all the users, it is of utmost importance for online businesses. Compliance with PCI DSS can help you secure your business as well as your clients’ sensitive information.

What is PCI DSS?

PCI DSS are internationally applicable and are designed to maintain the integrity of customer data and merchant payment systems. The standard was originally proposed to encourage the credit card companies to take adequate steps to ensure the safety of the data. In order to be PCI DSS compliant, an organization is required to fulfill twelve core requirements which include the obligation to build and maintain a secure network, protect the data pertaining to the cardholders and implement robust access control measures. There are also different levels of compliance, which you may choose to best meet your resources and requirements. Even if you outsource your payment processes, you are still required to be PCI DSS compliant. Similarly, you are required to fulfill PCI DSS requirements even if you do not store credit card data.

How to Become PCI DSS Compliant?

There are several ways to fulfill 12 core requirements for becoming PCI DSS compliant. Some of the steps you can take to ensure that your business complies with the set regulations are given below:

  • Ensure the safe recording of financial information such as credit card numbers, expiry date and CVV. You can simply outsource your requirements to a payment gateway which will then be responsible for the proper upkeep of data.
  • Update software and How security programs on your machines so that the malicious codes may not be installed on them.
  • Educate your employees to take adequate measures to secure the data. All systems should be password protected and such passwords should be frequently changed. Further, the employees should also be directed to not share their passwords and other login details.

There are main four levels of compliance and these levels are defined on the basis of transaction volume. Level 4 is applicable to businesses processing less than 20,000 transactions annually, whereas Level 3 covers the organizations carrying out 20,000 to 1 million transactions annually. Level 2 is applicable where the volume of transactions is between 1 and 6 million in a year and the upper most level is Level 1, which needs to be complied with by the businesses processing over 6 million transactions.

The process to become PCI DSS compliant varies for different organizations, based on their policies and procedures. The standard is applicable to all the businesses which process, transmit or store card details. You can start the process by completing the self-assessment questionnaire and undergoing vulnerability scan with an approved scanning vendor.

Why PCI DSS Compliance is Important?

The main aim of PCI DSS is to make payments processes safe and secure. The standard provides guidelines about the prevention and detection of data loss and payment frauds. It also offers remedial steps to be undertaken in cases where breach has already occurred. The compliance with this standard is important to ensure that the risk of a financial breach is minimized.

An organization can also boost its image and reliability by complying with PCI DSS. In the absence of such compliance, it may lose out on traffic and revenue volume as its clients may choose not to deal with the firm, in order to protect their financial details. The compliance with PCI DSS helps in elevating the trust level, which ultimately leads to a stronger top line.

Apart from gaining clients’ trust, compliance with PCI DSS can ensure the longevity and survival of the business as well. Financial data breaches can have devastating consequences for a business. Such frauds may lead to financial and even criminal liabilities, severely hampering the operations of an organization. Therefore, it is important that the risk of such catastrophic events is curtailed by following PCI DSS norms.

Top Tips to Burst Payment Myths

Top Tips to Burst Payment Myths

Online payments are the mainstay of e-commerce. Without an efficient online payment system, the growth of any e-commerce business would be greatly compromised. While designing an online payment system for a business, it is important to not only offer a wide range of platforms, but also to ensure that such platforms are robust and secure. Since most of the e-commerce businesses operate across borders, it is also important that such transactions are legally allowed as per the rules and regulations of the concerned countries. Following are the top tips which let you design an optimal payment system for your e-business.

  • Low Upfront Costs: While online payment platforms are essential for any online business, these are also expensive to operate. While deciding upon the platforms and methods to be used, proper attention should be paid to the associated costs.

Generally, these costs are upfront costs and running costs. Apart from the one-time setup fee, these platforms charge a certain percentage of transaction amount as their operating fee. Therefore, it is important that both these costs are taken into cognizance while deciding upon the platforms to be used. Don’t fall into the trap where some online payment service providers offer low upfront costs. It is highly likely that the associated operating costs will be on the higher side.

  • Supporting Features: Another myth associated with online payment systems is that they are only required to have the ability to accept payments. However, in an ecommerce business, the online payment system is expected to perform many more activities such as accounting for refunds and cashbacks. Such transactions are commonplace in an online business and therefore, the payment platform should be equipped to undertake such operations. While deciding about a service provider, it should be thoroughly checked that they are ready to provide such supporting functions.


  • Scalability: While most of the service providers offer the ability to scale up the payment system as and when your business grows, it is imperative that you fully check the extent of the scalability provided. Generally, such offers are saddled with fine prints and hidden clauses which come with additional contracts, higher fees, and other costs. You need to ensure that such elevated costs come with corresponding benefits in terms of scalability. Further, it should also be verified that the scaled operations will provide the same level of efficiency and robustness as the original plan.


  • Security: Online payment systems are still considered to be unsafe, which negatively affects their acceptance by the customers. In order to ensure that your customers feel safe while carrying out transactions, it is vital that you fully understand the safety features provided by your online payment platform. Apart from vetting the existing safety measures, you should also look at the service provider’s ability to offer safeguards against potential threats. Online businesses face new security threats on a daily business, making it imperative that the online payments service providers are ready to face not only existing threats but also the future ones. Installing a robust payment system will help in alleviating customers’ concerns about the safety of their money and personal information.


  • Flexibility: Another myth related to online payment systems is their rigidity. In order to keep the systems secure, it is generally believed that such systems are difficult to change and customize. However, this is not true as most of the top online payment service providers offer customizations to meet different requirements. Some of the top customizations are related to the acceptance of different currencies and diverse credit cards and debit cards. It is also a good idea to see whether your service provider is future ready to deal with upcoming technologies such as cryptocurrencies, which have the potential to become a major part of payment systems.

While deciding on an online payment system for your e-business, it is important that you take time to separate facts from fiction. There are several myths related to online payment systems and these misconceptions can negatively impact your decision-making process. In order to ensure that you set up the most optimal payment system for your business, you should keep the above-mentioned points in mind.

How to generate funds to grow your business

How to generate funds to grow your business

Are you an entrepreneur with a great business development model? If you are, you need to get started with generating adequate funds that will facilitate the growth of your business. Sufficient funds are essential for the expansion and growth of your company. Money is required to ensure smooth production, marketing, administration, etc. of your business. The revenue you generate will go a long way for all of these, but this revenue can be seasonal at times and money may fall short. This is why you need to have a backup plan for generating outside funds for your business. Some ways to generate funds are quite traditional while others are more creative. You have to figure out what you can work well with and find the best way to generate more funding.

The following are some of the best ways to generate funds for your business:

  1. Launch a crowdfunding campaign

Over the recent years, there have been a lot of crowdfunding success stories that might have caught your attention at some point or other. If you have the right product and can make the right pitch, you can definitely be one of them. First off, you have to create a good story for your business that people can connect to. You need to make your product look appealing to them. You should also use this opportunity to get feedback on how your product or business can improve. Your pitch should demonstrate the value of what your business offers and how it will serve people. Show them why your business requires more monetary support and how you will be using it. If you do it right, crowdfunding will provide a lot of external funds.

  1. Capital from friends and family

Statistics show that people are more willing to invest their money with someone they know or are familiar with. If you have friends or family with a lot of money, pitch your business to them. Give them shares in exchange or just borrow on interest, according to what works for them. Show them a good business plan that they can rely on. They will need to know where their money is going. You also need to be very clear about any risks involved. Document everything and move forward if this works out.

  1. Apply for loans

Loans are probably one of the most traditional ways to generate funding for businesses. Statistics show that the majority of small businesses raise capital through business loans or some form of credit. You need to find loan schemes that offer you the best rates and favourable terms. See if you meet their requirements and have all the documentation ready. If your bank credit score is bad, you might have trouble getting a loan. Be ready with your business statements like balance sheets and tax returns. If you meet all the requirements, you can get a lot of capital through loans.

There are other ways to get funding for your business. However, these are some of the most commonly used and successful ones.

Create a Loyalty Program in 5 Easy Steps

Create a Loyalty Program in 5 Easy Steps

Whether you have set up a new business or are looking to expand your existing one, creating a loyalty program can help you achieve your target.  A good loyalty program can help you in creating a sustainable customer base. As it is far more expensive to gain a new customer than to retain an existing one, a loyalty program can be help in running a business more efficiently. Here are the top tips to create a loyalty program which will keep the customers coming back.

  1. Know your Customer Base: In order to create a loyalty program which is just right for your business, it is important to know your customer base well. Some of the most pertinent questions which are required to be answered are the buying capacity of the customers, the type of products bought by them, and the duration for which they have been your customers. Answering these questions will allow you to make more objective assessment of your customer base and fine-tune your program appropriately. Loyalty programs are most suitable for businesses which experience recurring orders at reasonable business intervals. Also, different enterprises require different types of loyalty programs.


  1. Decide How to Reward: Rewarding your loyal customers well is the key to the success of a loyalty program. Once you know the main features of your clients, you will be in position to select the most appropriate type of rewards to be offered. It is common wisdom that customers respond more favorably to frequent rewards, even if they are smaller in size. Similarly, rewards in the form of discounts or cashback are also more popular with clients. The businesses are also advised to take a conservative approach towards the rewards as it is far easier to increase these prizes in the future than to decrease them.


  1. Keep it Simple: Since a customer loyalty program is long term in nature, it is important to keep it simple. The program should be designed in such a manner that is not only sustainable but also requires minimal resources for its operations. It should also provide positive experience for the clients. The signup process for the program should be self-explanatory and there should not be any ambiguity about the rewards. It is important that the clients are able to anticipate the rewards that they are entitled to so that they do not feel being taken advantage of. It will also make it easier for the employees to explain the program to the customers. All the expenses or qualifiers should also be stated upfront.


  1. Leverage Promotional Tactics: While it is important to keep the program simple, it is imperative that some of the time-tested promotional tactics are embedded in the program. The businesses may benefit immensely from endowed progress effect where the customers are provided with ‘bonus’ to give them a sense of quick achievement. Other tactics such as exclusive invites to certain events and premium services may also be used to entice customers to sign up for the program. It should also be ensured that there is proper customer care service available to attend to any query raised by your clients.


  1. Use CRM Tools: For running an efficient customer loyalty program, it is important to not only set the goals and budget but also to monitor and measure the progress on a continuous basis. This task may become burdensome over a period of time, so you may think about taking help of Customer Relationship Management tools for this purpose. These tools can help you in tracking your customer interaction and analyzing the results of the loyalty program. Such analysis helps you in making prompt changes to the program to improve its efficiency. You should also ensure that your customer loyalty program does not cannibalize your new client acquisition initiatives.


Loyalty programs may help a business in retaining its customers and generate repeat business in an efficient manner. However, it is highly important to customize the program to suit your specific business objectives and customer base. It is also pertinent to note that loyalty programs are good for big and small businesses alike. So, do not ignore this vital tool to boost your client base.

Five Payment Processing Challenges For Small Businesses

Five Payment Processing Challenges For Small Businesses

The payment industry today seems to be thriving with each passing day. While there is nothing more enjoyable than making money from your business, collecting money seems to be a totally different game. Unlike in the past, people now have no qualms about making payments online. More and more people, especially the current generation prefer using online modes of payments and like to go cashless. With an easier than ever acceptance of credit and debit cards, online payment has become much more sorted and simple, but it does come with its own set of challenges. If you run a small business, payment processing can get a little bit confusing and demanding. To prepare you for the worst, here are five biggest payment processing challenges that you are likely to face:

  1. Frauds

Well, who has not heard of credit card frauds?  Those still remain the biggest reason for most customers to opt for cash on delivery. They have been in existence since a long time and pose a threat to not just customers but to business entities as well. While advancement in technology has made online payment easier, it has also given birth to new types of frauds. Hence businesses need to be proactive about keeping the information of their clients secure. It is also important that as a business owner, you complete the audit of your processor. This can be done by hiring an audit expert who can evaluate your current security measures and warn you against possible vulnerabilities.

  1. Chargebacks

Chargebacks are one of the biggest challenges faced by business owners. Also known as processing fee, its amount depends on various factors like type of business, types of card used, and modes of payment and size of transactions. It is important that you remain in constant liaison with your provider and discuss how each fee works. There are ways to negotiate or avoid a few charges. So it is advised that business owners stay informed.

  1. Payment support

The world is always up, round the clock, so transaction issues are also expected to pop up anytime – even in the middle of night. It is important to have a payment processor support in after-hours too. If your provider refuses to offer that, you may want to rethink about sticking to your current provider. The processor should not leave you or your customers hanging and should always be ready to troubleshoot any problems that arise.  Having access to tutorials and video how to-s is a bonus.

  1. Payment integration

Payment processing is one of the most crucial components of any business. This seems like a common knowledge, yet, many businesses do not pay enough attention to the importance of an effective payment system. The technology available to collect payments is quite complex and needs to be given careful consideration. That is not all, even when your payment processing is successfully integrated, the cost can go up very significantly, especially for small businesses wanting to accept payments online. It is suggested by experts that business owners look for payment integration providers that have built an API suitable for your business.

  1. Compliance

There are a myriad of compliance issues that can appear for businesses in the online payment landscape. Technology certifications and challenges like PCI are just a couple of them. Needless to mention, the regulatory requirements can sometimes get extremely overwhelming for a small business entity as a non-compliance with any of legal regulations can lead to hefty fines and penalties. This makes it all the more important for business owners to work with a processor who can help you stay up to date with legal norms and regulations for your business type.

It is not only imperative, but mandatory that as a business owner you look for a processor that offers a broad set of solutions and products along with best in class support system that fits well with payment processing needs of your business.