Merchant compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard increased overall in the first quarter, Visa Inc. reported last week. Seventy-seven percent of large, so-called Level 1 merchants that process more than 6 million Visa transactions per year had validated their compliance with the standard as of March 31. That is the same percentage of Level 1 merchants that had validated compliance by Dec. 31. But 78% of Level 2 merchants that process 1 million and 6 million Visa transactions per year had validated their PCI compliance by the end of March, up 16 percentage points from 62% as of Dec. 31. Among Level 3 merchants that accept 20,000 to 1 million Visa transactions through their Web sites, 56% had validated their compliance by March 31, up slightly from 54% validating compliance by Dec. 31. Visa bases its validation statistics on merchant-compliance reports from acquirers. The card brand also reports that 99% of Level 1 and Level 2 merchants have told their acquirers they do not store card data prohibited by PCI rules, a fact that Visa attributes to industry education and its institution of monthly fines.