Payments Compliance Resources

How Small eCommerce Businesses Can Maintain Payment Compliance Obligations

Maintaining payment security can be confusing. Learn how small businesses can maintain compliance obligations.

Written by
Rachel Fine
Publication Date
March 22, 2022
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We live in the age of technology where many important tasks and work is done online. With the ever-increasing importance of global e-commerce, small businesses have to protect their revenue, customers, and reputation. While it's essential to understand payment processing, maintaining payment security can be confusing.

According to the World Economic Forum, 45 percent of CFOs said compliance was their biggest growth challenge. Spreedly can help by simplifying compliance and security for all our clients. To make it easier, we've created a guide to help you understand how small e-commerce businesses can meet and maintain patent compliance obligations.

What Is PCI DSS Compliance?

PCI DSS refers to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. PCI DSS is an information security standard for organizations that handle branded credit cards from the major card schemes. It is designed as the minimum standard for companies that handle credit card information to protect cardholders data from fraud and reduce the likelihood of their customer's data being compromised. 

The level of compliance a business needs to achieve is based on the number of transactions processed each year: 

  • Level 1 ( > 6 million transactions)
  • Level 2 ( 1 million to 6 million transactions)
  • Level 3 ( 20k to 1 million transactions)
  • Level 4 (< 20k transactions)

The cost of maintaining compliance varies based on several factors, such as the size of your business, the type, and the number of employees that access the data. 

Why Is Payment Processing Compliance Important?

The move of businesses online has also made payments convenient and easier. Innovative technologies have been able to address some of the needs of the  underbanked or unbanked, further increasing their participation rates. As online commerce continues to grow, so does the growth of cybercrime.

Studies show that the average cost of a data breach has reached nearly $5 million. The expenses include internal time and effort, regulatory fines, customer churns, and lost opportunities. There have been several advances of privacy and data security standards to protect small businesses from fraud. 

 A data breach not only impacts sales but can also result in fines and irrevocable damage to your reputation. PCI compliance, therefore, examines how data is handled across a company to identify any vulnerabilities that could place a cardholder's data at risk.

Any business found to be out of -compliance may receive a hefty fine and penalty.   The reputational damage your company may suffer can be tough to recover from. You may also lose your right to accept payment cards and, in extreme cases, have your account suspended. Understanding and meeting these requirements are crucial to protect your business and consumers.

How Can Small eCommerce Businesses Maintain Payment Compliance Obligations?

Set Up a Sturdy Firewall

A firewall is software or hardware that keeps your internal network away from the internet. A firewall essentially keeps the bad guys away and helps protect your systems from any unauthorized access resulting in data theft. Your systems have to have a properly configured firewall to be PCI compliant.

Develop Strong Password Practices

Passwords are technically your first line of defense against unauthorized access. They should, therefore, be unique, strong , and should be changed regularly.

Secure Stored Cardholder Data

A stored cardholder data refers to data that isn't actively in processing mode. This type of data is essential to ecommerce and must be protected from unauthorized access. 


Partnering with a tokenization provider helps businesses give their customers the confidence to make payments knowing their stored card data is secure. Tokenization is a secure way of storing payment method details. Payment method details are replaced with a representative token for merchants to store and use for transactions. In the event the token is obtained by a third party, the third party cannot use the token for a transaction as they will lack the security controls to decrypt the token.

Encrypt the Transmission of Cardholder Information

Small businesses need to use strong cryptography to encrypt the transmission of cardholder data to protect the data from interception.

Employ Quality Antivirus Software

Antivirus software is crucial in protecting your systems from malware (malicious software) that can steal your data or damage your business systems. Always ensure you use up-to-date antivirus software when maintaining payment compliance obligations.

Build Secure Systems and Apps

Building and maintaining secure systems and applications help protect from unauthorized individuals accessing your cardholder data. Your systems and applications should be tested regularly.

Restrict Data Access

Always restrict cardholder data giving access to authorized individuals only when necessary. Authorized individuals should be on a need-to-know basis and only have access to the  information required to do their jobs.

Assign a Unique ID Number to Authorized Individuals

Anyone with access to cardholder data should be assigned a distinct ID, this let’s you track activities of the ID and prevent misuse of the data.ny .

Limit Physical Access to Cardholder Information

Restrict all physical access to cardholder information to authorized users. This goes a long way in helping you protect the data and prevent it from being compromised or, even worse, stolen.

Track All Access to Cardholder Data

Monitor and track every authorized access to your cardholder data and network resources to detect any potential data compromise.

Test Security Procedures Regularly

Test security systems and procedures regularly to help ensure they are effective. It also protects the system from any risk or compromise.

Have a Policy Detailing the Security Measures

Every member of your team should be made aware of the cruciality of information security. Create a written policy that will help each of them understand their role in protecting cardholder information.

Create a Compliance Calendar

Payment compliance regulations vary depending on the  state and whether it is a  federal regulation. The due dates can also vary depending on your business' location. Creating and maintaining an updated compliance calendar helps companies stay on top of requirements, reducing the possibility of missed deadlines, attendant investigations and fines that may arise.

How Spreedly Factors Into the Equation

eCommerce businesses differentiate themselves by delivering  outstanding experiences to their customers. Partnering with a Payments Orchestration platform significantly reduces PCI compliance scope, freeing up development resources to  focus on your core product and customer experience.   

Spreedly offers compliance solutions that provide both security and convenience during payment. 

Download the PCI Compliance eBook Below

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