Innovations and Payment Systems

Credit card companies unite for security council


Major credit card companies come together to help give consumers an even more secure credit card.

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Major credit card companies American Express, Mastercard Worldwide, Visa International, Discover Financial Services and JCB are joining forces to improve protection, by establishing an organization to develop and maintain security standards for credit card and debit card payments.  Their announcement marks the first time the five companies have agreed on a single, common framework.

Newly created Payment Card International (PCI) Security Standards Council will manage the PCI Data Security Standard, first introduced in January 2005 with the goal of making its execution more streamlined for all those involved in transactions involving payment cards, such as merchants, payment processors, point-of-sale vendors, financial institutions and over a billion cardholders across the globe.

The five credit card companies explain that despite competition among themselves, the partnership stems from the fact that everyone will benefit by guaranteeing improved security.  According to Discover, the objective is to protect the information of the companies’ mutual customers and to simplify the process of data security compliance.  Visa notes that having a single data-security standard is a key issue for the whole industry and will simply the process, with the primary objective being an initiative to get data security in place for payment cards.  Formulating the generally accepted list of rules should encourage wider compliance, adds Mastercard.  Those rules include common technical standards, correct data encryption and security audit procedures.

The new council’s first activity was to update the PCI security standard, which was agreed upon in May.  The revision provides rules on how to implement the new standards and clarifies wording that was considered unclear earlier, with language such as “regularly” and “periodically” exchanged in favor of specific deadlines like “quarterly” or “annually” where needed.  The changes followed merchant, vendor, and payment processor feedback, according to a statement from the council.

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