What Is PCI Compliance?

PCI compliance refers to adherence to the PCI DSS—Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard—which includes several security standards devised to ensure that companies that handle payment card data keep their data environment secure. They apply to any organization that processes, transmits, or stores debit or credit card information. A group of leading credit card companies, including Visa, American Express, Mastercard, JCB International, and Discover developed the standards.

To achieve PCI compliance, businesses must implement a series of security measures that protect against data breaches, including maintaining a secure network, regularly monitoring and testing security systems, and restricting access to cardholders’ data. PCI compliance is essential for businesses that handle credit card transactions, as failure to comply can result in costly fines, legal action, and damage to the company’s reputation.

PCI DSS standards are regulated by the PCI SSC (Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council). The council continues developing and maintaining the PCI DSS and additional security standards to help protect cardholders’ data from theft and fraud. The PCI SSC is also responsible for ensuring that all entities that handle payment card data comply with the requirements of PCI DSS.

What Is a PCI Audit?

A PCI audit aims to evaluate the company’s security measures, policies, procedures, and systems to ensure they comply with the PCI DSS. The audit is conducted by a PCI SSC-certified Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) who has been trained to assess an organization’s compliance level.

The auditor typically reviews the company’s security controls to identify any vulnerabilities or weaknesses and provides recommendations for remediation. The PCI audit process usually involves several steps, including reviewing the company’s documentation, evaluating the company’s systems and processes, and submitting a final report to the PCI SSC. This is similar to a traditional IT audit process but adapted to the specific requirements of PCI DSS.

PCI audits are mandatory for any company that handles credit card data, including merchants, service providers, and payment processors. PCI audits help ensure that companies are properly protecting sensitive credit card data and can help prevent data breaches and associated financial losses.

What Is a Compliance Manager?

A compliance manager is a professional ensuring that a company or organization complies with relevant laws, regulations, policies, and standards. Compliance managers work across different industries and sectors, including finance, healthcare, technology, and manufacturing.

A compliance manager must have strong analytical and communication skills and a thorough understanding of relevant laws and regulations. They must be able to work collaboratively with other departments and stakeholders and have the ability to develop and implement effective compliance strategies that mitigate risk and ensure organizational success.

What Do PCI Compliance Managers Do?

PCI compliance managers work with stakeholders across the organization to develop and implement policies and procedures that ensure PCI DSS compliance and help to protect credit card data from theft and fraud. A PCI compliance manager might perform some specific tasks:

  • Developing and implementing procedures and policies to ensure PCI DSS compliance.
  • Conduct regular risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities and potential areas of non-compliance.
  • Managing the PCI compliance program and overseeing the work of other employees involved in compliance efforts.
  • Monitoring compliance performance and ensuring corrective actions are taken to address any issues.
  • Working with external auditors to conduct PCI compliance assessments and audits.
  • Providing training to employees on PCI compliance issues and best practices for protecting credit card data.
  • Staying up-to-date on changes to the PCI DSS and ensuring that the organization complies with any new requirements.

Who Is Qualified to Be a PCI Compliance Manager?

To be qualified as a PCI compliance manager, one should possess a combination of relevant education, work experience, and professional certifications. Generally, a PCI compliance manager must have a deep understanding of the PCI DSS and the ability to apply its requirements in practice.

Here are some qualifications that can help one become a PCI compliance manager:

  • Education: A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as computer science, information systems, or cybersecurity is typically required. Advanced degrees such as a Master’s in information systems security or cybersecurity are highly valued.
  • Work experience: Candidates for a PCI compliance manager role should have at least 5 years of experience working in a related field such as information security, risk management, or compliance. Candidates with experience in the payments industry, such as merchants, payment processors, or banks, are highly valued.
  • Professional certifications: Professional certifications such as CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), CISM (Certified Information Security Manager), or PCIP (Payment Card Industry Professional) can help to demonstrate knowledge and expertise in the PCI DSS and related areas.

Does Your Organization Need a Dedicated PCI Compliance

Regardless of what your organization does, if it processes credit or debit card transactions, it is obligated to comply with the PCI standards. Having a PCI compliance manager can be extremely beneficial. Here are some reasons why your organization may need a dedicated PCI compliance manager:

  • Ensuring compliance: The PCI DSS is a complex and evolving standard, and it can be difficult to stay up-to-date on the latest requirements and changes. A PCI compliance manager can help ensure that your organization complies with the standard and can avoid penalties and other consequences of non-compliance.
  • Managing risk: Processing payment card transactions carry inherent risks, including the risk of security incidents such as data breaches. A PCI compliance manager can help identify and manage these security compliance risks by conducting regular risk assessments and implementing appropriate controls to mitigate potential threats.
  • Protecting customer data: Protecting customers’ sensitive payment card data is essential for maintaining their trust and confidence in your organization. A PCI compliance manager can help ensure that your organization’s payment card processing systems are secure and that customer data is properly protected.
  • Streamlining processes: Compliance with the PCI DSS can be a complex and time-consuming process involving multiple departments and stakeholders. A PCI compliance manager can help streamline the compliance process by coordinating efforts across departments and ensuring everyone is on the same page.
  • Responding to incidents: In the event of a security incident or data breach, a PCI compliance manager can help coordinate incident response and ensure that appropriate remediation measures are taken.


In conclusion, a PCI compliance manager is a professional responsible for ensuring that a company or organization complies with the PCI DSS. They develop and implement policies and procedures, conduct risk assessments, monitor compliance performance, and train employees on compliance issues.

The need for a PCI compliance manager depends on several factors, such as the organization’s size, the scope of credit card transactions, and the organization’s level of PCI compliance expertise. Ultimately, organizations that handle credit card data must take PCI compliance seriously to protect themselves and their customers from the risks of data theft and fraud.