Travel Industry Review

ASATA PREEMPTS SCRAMBLE FOR PCI DSS COMPLIANCE FIXESby Sarah Cornwell

THE ASSOCIATION of Southern African Travel Agents has warned time is running out for travel agencies with ticketing capability to start PCI DSS compliance processes. ASATA has identified some major flaws with the system but last month, with no sign of a deferment, said credit card payment capabilities were at risk.

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards is defined as a global data security standard to protect confidential payment card information against theft and credit card as a form of payment.

Compliance is mandatory for retailers operating under BSP ZA. The International Air Transport Association granted an extension until March 2018 but evidence of compliance is required, ASATA said.

ASATA described the process as complex, long and stressful.

During its regional roadshow last month, the association estimated that 60 percent of BSP payments in South Africa involved credit card transactions for corporate and leisure travel.

Chief Executive Officer Otto de Vries said a working committee had been established to deliver solutions and a small merchant guide would help retailers. He said self-assessments were complex and businesses were uncertain about which requirements to apply.

For example, it took an agency in New Zealand four months at significant cost to go through the process. He commented: "The advice is to continue to investigate and understand what is expected of you. Everyone is extremely worried. This is not as easy as everyone has made it out to be."

IATA is working on a step-by-step solution to simplify the process, he added.

Mr. De Vries warned IATA’s March deadline was at risk but said another deferment was uncertain.

  The World Travel Agents Associations Alliance, of which ASATA is a member, was to stress retailers’ concerns at an APJC meeting held at the end of last month.

Outgoing ASATA President, Sure Travel CEO Vanya Lessing, said the council that represented the major credit card companies should be asked for a “fair and reasonable timeline”. She said, so far, fixes looked expensive.

  "[IATA] is leaving it up to the industry to find their own solution. Some groups say they are 80 percent of the way… but that is not 100 percent."

Mr. De Vries maintained: "Imagine switching all credit card [payments] to cash… The advice is to continue to investigate and understand what is expected of you."