PCI Finally Addresses Vending Machines, Phones And Kiosks That Take Cards. For Retailers, Though, It’s Still Tricky

Written by Evan Schuman
October 19th, 2011

The PCI Council has updated its PIN Transaction Security (PTS) rules to include newer types of card-accepting systems, including mobile, kiosks and vending machines, but left vague are many of the most practical retail issues. The new PTS version 3.1 is aimed at device manufacturers. Given that retail shops need to be populated with compliant devices, though, how much time will device makers have to make upgrades? How long will existing systems be given a pass?

The guidelines are generally filled with commonsense security restrictions. Consider B14: ” There is no mechanism in the device that would allow the outputting of a private or secret clear-text key or clear-text PIN, the encryption of a key or PIN under a key that might itself be disclosed, or the transfer of a clear-text key from a component of high security into a component of lesser security.” But there is nothing about timing, schedules or when retailers can—or should—include the new requirements in RFPs.

The closest the guidelines get to referencing existing hardware is a brief comment that such components can be reused in newly approved systems.

“The PCI PTS POI approval framework is oriented to the evaluation of integrated PIN entry devices (i.e., device where PIN entry functionality is in a secure logical and physical perimeter). However, it allows the re-use of previously approved individual components or their combinations (card readers, display, keypads, or secure processors) into the approval process of integrated PIN entry devices,” the guidelines say. “The POS Terminal Integration Evaluation Module ensures that the integration of previously approved components does not impair the overall security as stated in security requirements. This module also supports the cost-effective maintenance of components. This module includes security management requirements applicable to the integrated device.”

Beyond the mechanisms of the hardware, the PCI issues raised by devices—especially kiosks and vending machines—are also legal. As Wal-Mart discovered back in 2009, there are two contractual questions. First, if the device is handled by a third-party firm, can that firm truly—regardless of what it promises, even in its contract—take on all of your legal risks? Will that firm’s representation that it has achieved PCI compliance on the hardware in your store be sufficient to protect you in case of a breach?

Then there’s the other type of legal headache, the one that falls under the heading of “Anyone Can Sue You Over Anything At Any Time. The Only Question Is Whether They Can Win.” If you’re a major (read: deep-pocketed) retail chain and your brand and colors are plastered all over the kiosk and it’s sitting in the middle of your floor, how can you argue with the attorney representing your customer that said customer had a reasonable expectation that you were standing behind the payment-card transaction? And further, that customers would have never given their Visa cards to a machine had they known it was controlled by the Acme Kiosk Outsourcing Company? The loyalty and confidence you’ve built with your brand will come back to haunt you.


One Comment | Read PCI Finally Addresses Vending Machines, Phones And Kiosks That Take Cards. For Retailers, Though, It’s Still Tricky

  1. Steve Sommers Says:

    PCI’s timing is perfect. They release their PIN guidlines for kiosks approximately two weeks after the Durbin Amendment killed the small ticket purchase rates. I know, this guildline is not kiosk specific, I just find the timing kind of amusing.


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