PCI Compliance for Websites: Choosing a Payment Processor

Security, Web Design

As a business owner, ensuring the security of your customers’ sensitive data should be a top priority. One crucial aspect of this is achieving Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance for your website. This involves following a set of strict guidelines to protect cardholder data and reduce the risk of data breaches. In this post, we’ll look at a few considerations for choosing a payment processor and some possible advantages of using hosted fields or redirecting to a third-party secure site. We will also consider compatibility with existing systems and how your choice or provider and integration method may affect costs for development and compliance.

Using Hosted Fields

One way to simplify PCI compliance is by using hosted fields for payment processing. Hosted fields are iFrames that allow you to collect sensitive payment information directly on your site, while the actual processing takes place on the service provider’s secure servers. This means you don’t have to store or transmit sensitive data, significantly reducing your PCI compliance scope and potential vulnerabilities. With this approach, the payment fields appear to be part of your website, but are actually hosted by the third-party provider.

Redirecting to a Third-Party Secure Site

Another option, if supported by the payment processor or a third-party payment gateway provider, is to redirect to a secure website controlled by them and then back to yours once the payment is complete. In this case, the entire payment experience takes place on the third-party site, which in many cases can be branded with your company logo and colors.

Compatibility with Existing Software

Another important consideration when choosing a payment processor is compatibility with your existing software and systems. Many customers make the mistake of choosing the payment processor they wish to work with first, many times one offered through their bank, without considering its options for integration. In some cases, making these solutions work with their existing site can require costly development and additional compliance requirements.

If you’re using a content management system (CMS), then you’ll want to consider which plugins already integrate with that software and the compliance burdens created by those integrations. For example, if you’re using WordPress, then Stripe is a popular third-party gateway that integrates with many plugins and has a hosted fields option called Stripe Elements.

By starting by considering the technologies you are already working with and then comparing compatible options, can save you from headaches down the road and potentially reduce both upfront and ongoing costs for development and compliance.

And, if you do wish to use a payment processor that isn’t compatible with your existing software, then you may be able to use a third-party gateway, such as Authorize.net. However, keep in mind that using a third-party gateway may come with additional fees.


In summary, PCI compliance is important for any website that accepts payments. By choosing a payment processor that works with your existing website software and choosing one that supports hosted fields or a redirect to a secure site hosted by the processor or a third-party gateway provider, you can potentially reduce your development and compliance requirements and costs.

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