PCI DSS Compliant Payment Gateway: What it is & Why it is Important

Sep 27, 2023
6 min
Table of Contents

    The world of digital payments is a strictly regulated area that operates within a highly regulated framework for data security – PCI DSS – that FinTech software providers, merchants, payment processors, and basically, every party that works with sensitive data must comply with to protect customers from fraud.

    If you’re seeking a secure way to accept payments on your website, your primary consideration should be a PCI DSS compliant payment gateway. In this article, we’ll uncover what is a PCI payment gateway, why it is crucial, and who needs it in the first place.

    What is a PCI Compliant Payment Gateway?

    To understand the concept of a PCI DSS compliant payment gateway, let’s break it down into two parties. First, let’s examine what is a payment gateway.

    Payment gateway is a software that enables transaction processing by facilitating electronic transactions and exchanging payment data between customers, PCI compliant payment processors, card networks, issuing banks, acquiring banks, and ultimately a merchants, ensuring the secure and efficient transfer of funds. Simply put, it is a technical layer that allows merchants to accept payments from customers.

    PCI DSS compliance, often called PCI compliance, stands for compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. It is a set of mandatory security standards and best practices established by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) to protect customers’ sensitive credit card and payment information during and after transaction processing. 

    Now, let’s combine these two concepts.

    PCI compliant payment gateway is software or service that meets PCI DSS security requirements and standards. If a payment gateway is PCI DSS certified, it indicates it has implemented the necessary security measures to safeguard sensitive card data.

    Understanding PCI DSS Requirements

    To dive deeper into understanding the significance of PCI compliance for payment gateways, let’s look at a comprehensive set of requirements and security measures PCI DSS provides to organizations that handle payment card data.

    PCI DSS requirements involve six main components:

    1. Build and maintain secure networks and systems

    Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data and prevent unauthorized access and breaches.

    1. Protect cardholder data 

    Encrypt cardholder data when stored or transmitted to ensure its confidentiality and security. 

    1. Maintain a vulnerability management program

    Use and regularly update antivirus software or programs.

    1. Implement strong access control measures

    Limit access to cardholder data to minimize the risk of unauthorized access and data exposure.

    1. Regularly monitor and test networks

    Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data to promptly identify suspicious activity. 

    1. Validate PCI DSS compliance annually

    Renew PCI DSS compliance annually to ensure that your organization continues to meet its security standards and requirements.

    The Importance of PCI DSS Compliance

    PCI DSS compliance is of paramount importance for all the parties involved in handling customers’ sensitive card data. Let us take a closer look at why it is essential.

    Legal obligations

    PCI DSS compliance is not an option you can choose whether or not to have. It is mandated by the law and regulations for sensitive card data processing. That is why you may face severe penalties, fines, and legal consequences if you fail to comply with it. Noncompliance penalties can range from a few thousand dollars to several hundred thousand dollars or more. PCI DSS compliance is what helps organizations meet their legal obligations and prevent costly penalties. 

    Data security

    Another threat merchants are concerned about is fraudulent activity. If your software provider is not certified with PCI DSS, it will not likely keep cardholders’ data secure on your website. The consequences can be severe, ranging from financial loss to irreparable reputation damage. The essence of PCI DSS certification is precisely protecting sensitive cardholder data. Compliance ensures robust security measures are in place to safeguard their customers’ sensitive data from unauthorized access, breaches, and theft.

    Financial protection

    As PCI DSS dramatically reduces the likelihood of data breaches occurring in the first place, it helps businesses avoid the financial repercussions, saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars on fines, legal fees, and expenses related to security enhancements, policy improvements, and compliance efforts to prevent future incidents. 

    Reputational management 

    As a business’s reputation stands among its most precious assets, it becomes imperative for enterprises to shield both themselves and their customers from fraud. Failure to do so can result in permanent customer trust loss and irreparable damage to the business’s long-term reputation. This is precisely where PCI DSS steps in, preventing fraud from occurring and damaging your reputation. 

    Customer trust

    Whenever a customer wants to make a purchase on a website, they first evaluate how safe it is to enter their payment information. Compliance with PCI DSS makes businesses trustworthy to customers, encouraging them to purchase at your website, knowing their credit card details are secure and protected.

    How a PCI DSS Compliant Payment Gateway Works

    A PCI DSS compliant payment gateway facilitates secure online transactions by encrypting and transmitting a customer’s card data, obtaining authorization from their issuing bank, and processing their payment securely.

    For a deeper understanding of how payment gateways operate, read the article below:

    How a Payment Gateway Works

    Throughout the process, the PCI DSS compliant payment gateway maintains a high level of security, ensuring that customer sensitive data is protected at all transaction processing stages. It may also offer additional technologies to protect customers from fraud, such as tokenization (replacing actual card data with randomly generated tokens) and fraud prevention to enhance security further.

    To maintain PCI DSS compliance, payment gateways undergo annual audits and assessments to verify their adherence to security standards.

    Benefits of Using a PCI DSS Compliant Payment Gateway

    There are multiple benefits that a PCI DSS compliant payment gateway offers to online merchants and businesses of all kinds. Among them are:

    1. Legal and regulatory compliance

    Payment gateways that adhere to PCI DSS standards help businesses meet legal and regulatory data security requirements. When you leverage PCI compliance using payment gateway, it guarantees that the company operates according to applicable laws and regulations, avoiding any legal repercussions associated with non-compliance.

    1. High-end system security

    PCI payment gateway provides advanced technologies for securely handling and storing sensitive card data, ensuring strict adherence to requirements and regulations designed to safeguard customers from fraudulent activities.

    1. Global expansion

    PCI DSS standards and requirements are internationally recognized and accepted in many countries around the world. That is why merchants leveraging compliant software can accept transactions worldwide and confidently expand their customer base, knowing that they meet established security standards.

    1. Streamlined transaction processing

    PCI compliant payment gateways deliver high efficiency levels. They are designed to process transactions quickly and securely, minimizing delays in payment authorization and processing to ensure a seamless and fast checkout experience.

    1. Pleasant customer experience

    When customers make a purchase on a website that utilizes a PCI DSS compliant payment gateway, they experience a hassle-free and secure transaction process that shields them from fraudulent activities. This positive experience fosters loyalty to the merchant, encouraging future purchases.

    PCI DSS Compliance Levels

    As organizations that process payment card transactions come in different sizes and operate with varying levels of complexity, there are four different levels of PCI DSS certification. These levels are based on the number of annually processed transactions. 

    Level 1: over 6M transactions per year

    Level 2: between 1M and 6M transactions per year

    Level 3: between 20K and 1M transactions per year

    Level 4: less than 20K transactions per year

    Who needs PCI DSS compliant payment gateway?

    Now that you’ve gained a solid understanding of the basics of PCI compliant payment gateways, let’s explore who needs them for their business operations. 

    First and foremost, a PCI payment gateway is crucial for merchants that process payment card transactions, including e-commerce websites, subscription services, retailers, online marketplaces, and basically any business that handles sensitive card data to secure it during transaction processing.

    Also, it is mandatory for Payment Service Providers (PSPs) who offer their services to merchants in order to protect the data they handle on their behalf.

    To learn more about how to integrate a PCI compliant payment gateway into your website or application, read the article below:

    Payment Gateway Integration: A Step-by-Step Guide for Business Owners

    How Akurateco Can Help You Maintain PCI Compliance

    Akurateco is a PCI DSS Level 1 certified white-label payment gateway provider that offers advanced technologies and over 300 payment integrations to merchants and PSPs worldwide. 

    Let’s take a look at PCI compliant payment gateway integration options that are available to our clients:

    Clients with a non-PCI DSS compliant payment page

    For merchants without PCI DSS-compliant checkout pages, we offer Hosted Payment Page (HPP) integration coupled with a Software Development Kit (SDK) that enables complete customization according to the client’s logo, color scheme, and other branding preferences.

    Also, they can integrate a payment gateway via Server-to-Server (S2S) APM that redirects the user to the Akurateco server for payment. Moreover, if merchants work on different platforms such as WooCommerce, PrestaShop, etc., they can use a variety of plugins for payment gateway integration that Akurateco provides. 

    Clients with PCI DSS compliant payment page 

    If a merchant’s checkout page is PCI DSS compliant, they have the flexibility to select from the integration options listed below:

    • HPP
    • API rest/API soap (S2S)
    • Mobile SDK
    • CMS plugins

    Maintaining PCI DSS compliance with Akurateco

    For businesses interested in obtaining PCI DSS compliance for your business, we offer assistance in achieving Level 3 and Level 4 compliance for merchants and Level 2 compliance for PSPs.

    As Akurateco collaborates with leading Qualified Security Assessors (QSAs), our experts can guide you throughout the compliance process step by step, from preparing documents to achieving PCI DSS certification. We’ll also provide the documentation from our side, including details about our system’s architecture and other necessary documents.


    Overall, a PCI DSS compliant payment gateway is a crucial component for safeguarding payment data in today’s digital landscape, offering businesses numerous benefits, from enhanced security to streamlined transaction processing.

    At Akurateco, we provide industry-leading white-label payment solutions, ensuring the highest data security standards. To explore the PCI compliant payment gateway that will effectively safeguard your clients’ payment journey and help you meet the required standards, schedule a Free Demo with our experts and get all your questions answered.


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