MasterCard Blinks, Drops Dec. 31 Level 2 PCI Deadline

Written by Evan Schuman
December 16th, 2009

MasterCard has quietly backed off from a much-complained-about plan to require Level 2 merchants to—for the first time—have an onsite QSA assessment completed by the end of 2010. Having a New Year’s Eve deadline—on the heels of the all-encompassing holiday season—was a recipe for tons of missed deadlines.

The first MasterCard change made this month was pushing the Dec. 31, 2010, deadline back six months, to June 30, 2011. But MasterCard has also made two other key PCI changes. It has redefined what Level a retailer is (Level 1, 2, 3 or 4) to explicitly mirror whatever level Visa has determined. (The language used to say “competing brand.”) The last of the changes is to allow Level 1 and Level 2 retailers to perform their own assessments—using the retailer’s own salaried audit staff—as long as those audit staffers have passed PCI-approved training courses.

Update To This Story: MasterCard Clarifies Its Thinking

Walt Conway, a QSA for 403 Labs who also writes StorefrontBacktalk‘s weekly PCI column, applauded the MasterCard move, but said the change isn’t entirely good news for retailers. That’s because the agreement to mirror whatever Level Visa has assigned will likely promote many chains that simply had far more Visa transactions than MasterCard transactions. Because Visa generally treats Level 2s less strictly than does MasterCard, these promotions may not be universally welcomed.

“A bunch of Level 3 and Level 4 merchants just became Level 2s,” Conway said. “With this reciprocity gotcha, MasterCard giveth and MasterCard taketh away.”

One advantage to the change is simple cost-savings, as training the existing audit staffers will almost certainly cost a lot less than paying for an outside QSA.

“We heard at the PCI Community Meeting that the Council was working on a certification program for merchant staff that would be modeled on the current QSA training,” Conway said. “It appears the training (and certification) will be in place by next year, and MasterCard is reflecting this development in its PCI validation requirements.”


Comments are closed.


StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.