What Is PA-DSS?

Last updated on June 23rd, 2022 at 04:28 am

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PA-DSS stands for Payment Application Data Security Standard. It encompasses a list of protocols intending to enhance secure payments. One key feature of PA-DSS is that it only works with payments within the PCI-DSS compliance system.

Payment Application Data Security Standard enables vendors to handle merchant’s data during a transaction without storing or leaking pertinent information. If a merchant decides to create their payment processing application, they can still launch it on the PCI-DSS platform, but they can’t use the PA-DSS protocols.

The PA-DSS application first appeared at the end of 2008. It was the successor to the Payment Application Best Practices from Visa. The company had decided to create a software system where merchants could launch their payment applications. Unfortunately, the system did not gain traction, and Visa abandoned it soon after.

How Do You Become PA-DSS Compliant?

For your business to operate on the PA-DSS platform, your payment application must undergo a PA-DSS security assessment. PA-DSS protocols prohibit e-commerce companies from storing critical client information. However, this applies to software developers only because they are the ones who develop payment applications.

There are several things that the PA-DSS assessment will check. First, your application should not store critical cardholder information, such as validation codes, magnetic strips, and PINs. Similarly, your application must offer applications promoting secure password processing. All these measures are supposed to protect cardholder information.

PA-DSS has become widespread because it promotes the use of secure applications. These applications protect internet transactions from malicious entities. They also make it easy for companies and merchants to identify and solve weaknesses within their applications. Some companies have even gone as far as using PA-DSS to secure their networks during specific software implementations.

Who Can Use PA-DSS?

Any company that handles cardholder information will use the PCI-DSS system. On the other hand, PA-DSS is limited to integrators and creators of payment processing systems. This does not mean that companies cannot develop payment applications without using PA-DSS. However, these payment applications will be exposed to more vigorous verifications and requirements.

Some people have lost their PA-DSS compliance because they accessed cardholder information from an online server. This is key because you are supposed to provide secure customer access to your software. Therefore, all data about cardholder information must be encrypted when it is traveling on public systems. You must also provide manual documentation to integrators, resellers, and customers to hasten the process of adoption.

PA-DSS is essentially a series of industry best practices for online vendors creating payment applications. You can access the application from any third party as long as the third-party adheres to PA-DSS standards.

Benefits Of The PA-DSS

Although your company is not obligated to comply with PA-DSS protocols, it will be a big mistake to overlook the payment application. That is because it has practical benefits for your business.

The main benefits of the PA-DSS solution are:

Protecting Customer Data

PA-DSS protects critical consumer information from unsavory actors. Consequently, it requires companies to create and manage secure networks during customer transactions.

Helps To Identify Vulnerable Points

PA-DSS forces companies to implement control measures. These measures include programs for network testing, cleaning, and verification. It also prevents software vendors from developing malicious payment systems.

Identify Non-compliant Partner Applications

You can use PA-DSS to evaluate your payment application security. Also, you may use it to identify a payment app not validated by any payment processing entity. Therefore, PA-DSS will help you to avoid dangerous applications.

Guide Your Application Development

Another significant benefit of PA-DSS is that it guides your internal payment development process. You don’t want to spend so much money to build an app harmful to the payment architecture. Instead, you want to develop a payment application compatible with all cards.

Main Differences Between PA-DSS And PCI-DSS

Both solutions are products of one security standards council. This council is composed of the major credit card companies in the world. They aim to create a standardized model for e-commerce businesses and protect consumers from losing their card information to online scammers.  However, there are a few differences between PA-DSS and PCI-DSS.

The PCI-DSS standards differ from the PA-DSS norm in several ways. To start with, the PCI DSS works to create applications for the storage of consumer payment data across all industries.  As a result, it concentrates on the transmission, processing, and storage of card information. On the other hand, PA-DSS creates rules that manage payment applications.

The two systems also differ because PA-DSS is limited to merchants who create and sell payment software, while PCI DSS applies to the entire industry. Consequently, all merchants that accept cards on the internet must use the PCI DSS system to complete those transactions.


PA-DSS is an essential architecture because it helps developers to create compatible applications. However, these applications will operate within the PCI-DSS architecture. If you need more information, please do contact us today.