Archive for August, 2013


Mobile Payments Update

This past week, Bob Russo, General Manager of the PCI SSC, held Webcasts to discuss the changes coming to version 3 of the PCI DSS and PA-DSS.  For the most part, these Webcasts were nothing special.  Just a scripted regurgitation of what was published in the Version 3.0 Change Highlights document release earlier this month.

However, at around 35 minutes into the Webcast I attended, things got very interesting and an actual useful piece of information was shared.  For it was at that point that Mr. Russo launched into a discussion about mobile payments and the use of consumer devices such as smartphones and tablets for the processing of card transactions.  Mr. Russo stated:

“The fact is that many consumer mobile devices simply cannot provide the level of security needed to adequately protect payment card data.  In other words, they cannot create a trusted environment equivalent to the PCI DSS compliant cardholder data environment.”

Whoa!  Now there is a piece of information I was not expecting.  I looked at the slide and these are the bullets on the slide.

  • PCI Standards focus on merchant acceptance
  • Mobile payment acceptance still evolving
  • Understand risk and use PCI SSC resources
  • PCI SSC is working with industry

Mr. Russo went on to say:

“We encourage merchants to understand the risk of using mobile, work with their acquirer and make their own decisions about mobile and whether they are willing to accept that risk.”

“We’re working with others in the industry including: standards bodies, vendors, banks and processors.  But we are unwilling to lower the bar for security by writing a standard that current mobile devices could meet.  If we wrote a secure standard for mobile now, no consumer devices would be able to meet it.”

The bottom line in all of this is that all of you merchants using iPads, iPhones, Android phones and tablets and similar devices are using them at your own risk.  They are not PCI compliant.  Not only that, you should have cleared that decision with your acquiring bank so that they also accepted the risk that you were using mobile devices to accept payments.

Mr. Russo referred Webcast attendees to reference the PCI SSC Information Supplement ‘Accepting Mobile Payments with a Smartphone or Tablet’ for additional information regarding the use of such devices.

Mr. Russo also reminded everyone that mobile payments from the consumer side are not within the purview of the PCI SSC and the PCI standards.  So wallet applications, near field communication (NFC) and the like will not be regulated by the PCI standards.

These statements though leave a lot of questions for QSAs.

  • How are QSAs supposed to reference these non-compliant devices in the merchant’s Report On Compliance (ROC)?
  • Do QSAs mark this in the ROC as non-compliant and which requirements do QSAs flag as non-compliant?  Is it because the devices are not PTS compliant or are their other requirements that are not met?
  • Do QSAs need a compensating control for these devices?  And exactly what would the controls be that would make these devices acceptable?
  • Do QSAs need to obtain a letter from the merchant’s acquiring bank(s) acknowledging the use of these devices and their approval of their use?

I am sure this will create many interesting discussions at the PCI Community Meeting that is just a few weeks out.  So stay tuned.


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August 2013