Some accountants are finding a new stream of revenue among clients who are merchants: payment card compliance services. Credit card issuers - American Express, Discover, MasterCard, VISA, and JCB - are vigilant when it comes to enforcing rigorous standards on businesses that accept credit card information for any purpose. And the slow economy only underscores the need for security. Between 2007 and 2008, insider theft more than doubled, which is why, when a breach occurs, the credit card issuers bring the hammer down hard on merchants.
Big companies can generally afford to pay a team of qualified security assessors to guide them into compliance. But for smaller companies, the cost may be crippling. PCI Solutions was formed to allow CPAs to become specialists in payment card compliance. CPAs, as the trusted advisers to their clients, could then provide the guidance those clients need to satisfy compliance requirements and avoid security breaches... at an affordable price.
Although standards governing the use of credit card information are set by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, it is the credit card companies themselves that enforce security. When a merchant is found to be out of compliance, the results can be severe, including:
· Fines of up to $500,000 per non-compliant requirement
· Liability for costs relating to fraud
· Responsibility for the replacement of credit/debit cards.
· The merchant may also lose the ability to accept credit/debit cards for payment.
Dr. Suzanne Miller, president of PCI Solutions says that her company “empowers CPAs to work with clients” at a price small merchants can afford. The benefit to small merchants is clear, as is the profit potential for CPAs. The average fee a small business would pay to become compliant is $5,000, while the cost to the CPA to buy one license from PCI Solutions is about $1,000. Five licenses can be purchased for $1,500.
Recently PCI Solutions added a portal that will allow a CPA firm to buy up to 20 licenses. The CPA’s merchant clients are able to go into the portal and enter information that shows in what areas they are compliant.
Through PCI Solutions, CPAs can get step-by-step guidance, workbooks, and policies and procedures needed to become and remain compliant. PCI Solutions also offers webinars and an “online buddy” program that will allow clients to take their questions to a Qualified Security Advisor.
In addition to providing a new stream of revenue, a PCI compliance niche
- Creates off-peak seasonal work
- Reduces audit risk
- Improves financial statement disclosures
- And facilitates staffing flexibility and scheduling
The economy may be in the doldrums, but the need for payment card compliance continues to heat up. If your firm needs to grow, this is one area worth considering.