With an eye toward making sure more small and medium-size merchants are aware of the need to comply with the Payment Card Industry data security standards, Dallas-based acquirer SignaPay will utilize ControlScan services.

Atlanta-based ControlScan will provide SignaPay access to its PCI Dashboard, which monitors each merchant's progress in having payments systems that meet the PCI guidelines. The PCI rules describe how companies must protect the card data they handle.

ControlScan's recent research of more than 600 smaller merchants indicates 46% say they never heard of PCI, 79% say their company has "little or no risk" of a breach, and 50% of those familiar with PCI say they have not yet validated compliance.

"SignaPay recognizes the importance of taking it upon themselves, as the acquirer/processor, to educate the … [smaller] merchants about security, because they know many of those merchants won't do it [without guidance]," says Greg Leos, ControlScan's vice president of sales and development in North America.

Smaller merchants have various obstacles facing them, such as a lack of technical knowledge or manpower to deal with PCI compliance issues while also operating their businesses, Leos says.

ControlScan advises merchants that PCI compliance and data security "has to be an integral part of your budget" and that a data breach could damage a business beyond repair, Leos says.

"I liken it to car insurance," Leos adds. "I haven't had an accident in 10 years, but when it does happen, it can be a significant event in your life. It's the same for merchants and a data breach."

The data security process has become more complex, says Mark Hayward, senior manager of business development for ControlScan.

In addition to the PCI Dashboard that SignaPay will manage, ControlScan provides online tools for merchants to get through the assessment process, with advice customized for an individual business, Hayward says.

"There are highlighted areas on the questionnaire for the merchant to 'hover over' to obtain more information or clarification on something they may not understand," Hayward adds. ControlScan also provides phone support and online chats to help merchants with their assessment.

SignaPay currently processes payments for 14,000 merchants.

Hayward could not disclose the revenue sharing arrangements or fees for SignaPay, saying only that smaller merchants pay only "minimal fees" for security services.

SignaPay acting president Jeff Brown wasn't available for an interview.

However, in a March 26 press release, Brown notes the two companies have similar goals.

"At SignaPay, we differentiate ourselves by the personalized experience we give each and every merchant we serve," Brown says. "We found this same spirit in ControlScan, making our new partnership a terrific fit."

SignaPay has provided merchant services to small and medium-sized businesses since 2007. The company recently lost two executives. Kevin G. Jones, former president, and Andy Meadows, former vice president of sales, left to start their own Dallas-based acquiring and processing company, Anovia Payments.

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