Compliance frameworks
Why PCI compliance matters for SaaS startups

Why PCI compliance matters for SaaS startups

For companies innovating in fintech or big data solutions, it is certainly an interesting time to be alive. Many novel use cases in lending, payments, user analytics, and customer interaction have been enabled by open architecture, cheap and accessible artificial intelligence, and the widespread adoption of cloud-based data storage and analysis.

The startups building these new services and platforms are creating real value with their  innovative solutions, but can sometimes overlook the security and compliance implications their products may pose to a prospective customer, thus impacting their own sales potential.

One of the biggest struggles for a fast-growing startup is in developing an appropriate security and compliance model, while simultaneously being able to quickly demonstrate their security to investors and customers.

PCI for big data and fintech

One of the most common requests that big data and fintech companies receive from outside parties is proof of their Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance status. The lack of an appropriate response can be a deal breaker with prospects that have requirements to only engage with PCI compliant providers, and the wrong answer (“we’re working on this”) will almost always cause friction and awkward conversations. We’re also seeing PCI compliance as a prerequisite for substantial funding rounds for companies handling sensitive cardholder data, making PCI compliance something big data and fintech startups need to pay attention to.  

Just as important, the Data Security Standard is a comprehensive, well-established baseline for building a secure and sustainable security and compliance program. The controls required to secure systems and data in accordance with the DSS can be translated to other industry standards, making it much easier to meet other goals (such as SOC 2 and ISO 27001 certification) down the road.

How to get PCI compliant quickly

The good news is that PCI DSS compliance is not as daunting as it used to be for companies using automated compliance platforms like Vanta. Our cloud-based, continuous monitoring approach can help fast moving, resource-strapped startups meet complicated standards faster and cheaper than ever, while providing step-by-step guidance to demystify complicated technical and administrative processes. Having real-time insight into your company’s security and compliance status will not only help you sleep better at night, it can be the difference between closing a deal or losing it to your PCI compliant competition.

PCI compliance is not just another requirement to check off, it is a business enabler and sales differentiator for any company that interacts with payment card data or provides services to companies that do. A plan to address customer data security should be high on the list of priorities for fintech and big data startups to minimize technical and business risk – but also to help nip awkward sales conversations in the bud.

Learn more about PCI:

Automate your PCI DSS compliance

Determine your PCI compliance level

PCI DSS checklist

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Access Review Stage Content / Functionality
Across all stages
  • Easily create and save a new access review at a point in time
  • View detailed audit evidence of historical access reviews
Setup access review procedures
  • Define a global access review procedure that stakeholders can follow, ensuring consistency and mitigation of human error in reviews
  • Set your access review frequency (monthly, quarterly, etc.) and working period/deadlines
Consolidate account access data from systems
  • Integrate systems using dozens of pre-built integrations, or “connectors”. System account and HRIS data is pulled into Vanta.
  • Upcoming integrations include Zoom and Intercom (account access), and Personio (HRIS)
  • Upload access files from non-integrated systems
  • View and select systems in-scope for the review
Review, approve, and deny user access
  • Select the appropriate systems reviewer and due date
  • Get automatic notifications and reminders to systems reviewer of deadlines
  • Automatic flagging of “risky” employee accounts that have been terminated or switched departments
  • Intuitive interface to see all accounts with access, account accept/deny buttons, and notes section
  • Track progress of individual systems access reviews and see accounts that need to be removed or have access modified
  • Bulk sort, filter, and alter accounts based on account roles and employee title
Assign remediation tasks to system owners
  • Built-in remediation workflow for reviewers to request access changes and for admin to view and manage requests
  • Optional task tracker integration to create tickets for any access changes and provide visibility to the status of tickets and remediation
Verify changes to access
  • Focused view of accounts flagged for access changes for easy tracking and management
  • Automated evidence of remediation completion displayed for integrated systems
  • Manual evidence of remediation can be uploaded for non-integrated systems
Report and re-evaluate results
  • Auditor can log into Vanta to see history of all completed access reviews
  • Internals can see status of reviews in progress and also historical review detail

The ultimate guide to scaling your compliance program

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PCI Compliance Selection Guide

Determine Your PCI Compliance Level

If your organization processes, stores, or transmits cardholder data, you must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), a global mandate created by major credit card companies. Compliance is mandatory for any business that accepts credit card payments.

When establishing strategies for implementing and maintaining PCI compliance, your organization needs to understand what constitutes a Merchant or Service Provider, and whether a Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) or Report on Compliance (ROC) is most applicable to your business.

Answer a few short questions and we’ll help identify your compliance level.


Does your business offer services to customers who are interested in your level of PCI compliance?


Identify your PCI SAQ or ROC level

The PCI Security Standards Council has established the below criteria for Merchant and Service Provider validation. Use these descriptions to help determine the SAQ or ROC that best applies to your organization.

Good news! Vanta supports all of the following compliance levels:


A SAQ A is required for Merchants that do not require the physical presence of a credit card (like an eCommerce, mail, or telephone purchase). This means that the Merchant’s business has fully outsourced all cardholder data processing to PCI DSS compliant third party Service Providers, with no electronic storage, processing, or transmission of any cardholder data on the Merchant’s system or premises.

Get PCI DSS certified


A SAQ A-EP is similar to a SAQ A, but is a requirement for Merchants that don't receive cardholder data, but control how cardholder data is redirected to a PCI DSS validated third-party payment processor.

Learn more about eCommerce PCI

for service providers

A SAQ D includes over 200 requirements and covers the entirety of PCI DSS compliance. If you are a Service Provider, a SAQ D is the only SAQ you’re eligible to complete.

Use our PCI checklist

Level 1 for service providers

A Report on Compliance (ROC) is an annual assessment that determines your organization’s ability to protect cardholder data. If you’re a Merchant that processes over six million transactions annually or a Service Provider that processes more than 300,000 transactions annually, your organization is responsible for both a ROC and an Attestation of Compliance (AOC).

Automate your ROC and AOC

Download this checklist for easy reference


Learn more about how Vanta can help. You can also find information on PCI compliance levels at the PCI Security Standards Council website or by contacting your payment processing partner.

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