PCI compliance is a headache for most companies big and small. Not only does it take months of work, but it can be incredibly expensive. 

But it’s only expensive because the traditional, in-house method requires businesses to build and maintain everything themselves while shouldering all of the liability in case of a breach. Some merchants and service providers also mistakenly believe that a data breach fine is more affordable than PCI compliance. Hint: It’s not.

How Expensive Is a Data Breach?

The cost of a data breach or data exposure goes far beyond PCI fines. The average cost of a breach amounts to $3.86 million in 2020. Even a small breach can affect customer trust, decrease your loyal consumer base, affect your stock price, and risk millions in future revenue. Then, of course, you’ll also need to pay any fines while also spending more to ensure protection for your systems.

The Cost of DIY PCI Compliance

The in-house, DIY approach to data security is by far the most expensive. And it’s easy to see why. You will not only have to pay for the certification itself but also build, design, and maintain a secure network. That can include hardware, software, and at least 2-3 data security engineers. On top of that, you’ll need to hire a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) for your final audit. 

Your initial scope can cost  $250,000 according to Verifi. If you still have gaps after the audit, it’s more time and resources to make the system repairs. And there are additional compliance-related costs can add up to $550,000 – $1,000,000 for Level 1 compliance. Some of the services you will need to gain compliance are:

  • Hiring a QSA for a gap assessment 
  • Vulnerability Scans 
  • Penetration Testing 
  • Training and policy development 
  • Onboarding at least one engineer to help resolve issues found in your audit
  • Remediation
  • Ongoing maintenance and revalidation 

Many of these items will be applicable to lower levels of compliance as well. Achieving Level 4 PCI compliance will cost at least $75,000 – $90,000.

Some companies will choose to use vendor products to stitch together a PCI data security solution. While this might reduce some of the initial set up costs, you are still liable for any data breach.

And of course, once you achieve compliance, you’ll need to maintain it. The cost for yearly maintenance averages out to around $250,000 per year, excluding headcount. And if you change your systems and processes at any time, you’ll need to revalidate your systems again and again.

Building a PCI secure environment, yourself not only costs some serious cash, but it also diverts time and resources that could be focused on new product launches or other growth activities. 

The Most Affordable And Efficient Path to PCI Compliance

Imagine this: You are using credit card data. But you never actually see the card numbers or the cardholder name. What would you do if you didn’t need to worry about securing the PCI data?

This scenario describes the Zero Data approach, in which you never touch sensitive data. Instead, you outsource your data protection to a third party, who collects, stores, and transmits the data for you. While you own the data and it’s completely portable, you don’t have to worry about the liability of a data breach or upkeeping an expensive data security infrastructure. 

In fact, this third party removes you from PCI scope altogether. So instead of months, it only takes days for you to achieve full PCI compliance. And at the same time, you’ve saved 50% or more in the cost.


Sounds Too Good to Be True? It’s not.

Using data aliasing combined with an ultra-secure vault, VGS is able to ensure that your company is never exposed to the raw, sensitive data. Instead, you see aliases (an advanced type of token) that cannot be reverse-engineered. If someone hacks your system, they will only find synthetic data. And it’s easy to implement – just a simple redirect at the network level and no code changes to your architecture. 

With the Zero Data approach, PCI compliance is no longer an obstacle and a burden. Instead, it can accelerate your business growth and allow you to build consumer trust.