In a story titled “Cash Vanishes from Merchants’ Accounts”, Amy Barrett and Jeremy Quittner write for BusinessWeek about how some merchant acquirers are imposing new reserve requirements on some of their card accepting small business merchants.

Most processing agreements give the transaction giants the right to accumulate those reserves simply by holding back money the merchant is supposed to be paid after a credit-card transaction has cleared, often with little or no warning.

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While sensational data breaches experienced by big-box retailers and processors fill the headlines, 85 percent of reported data compromises involve small merchants – defined as Level 4 by the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS). More than 6 million small merchants are doing business in North America; fewer than 5 percent have attested to compliance with the PCI DSS.

These are potentially costly statistics for acquirers, who ultimately shoulder the monetary burden should their merchants experience breaches.

Beyond their abundance, Level 4 merchants carry unique challenges. Acquirers can reduce their overall risk and dramatically improve compliance rates among these merchants by overcoming four often-overlooked pitfalls when designing their PCI compliance programs.

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