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Whether you’re a treasurer, IT security director, chief financial officer, or payments veteran, you’re most likely all-too-familiar with the self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ). Updated in version 3.2.1 of the PCI DSS back in May 2018, SAQs enable organizations that electronically store card information to demonstrate proof of compliance with their acquiring bank and the PCI Security Standards Council. In other words, the questionnaire offers a means of validating that a merchant is adhering to requirements for securing cardholder data.

SAQs come in various shapes and sizes, with critical implications for time, money, and effort spent. Let’s explore how implementing a point-to-point encryption (P2PE) solution can instantly shift your compliance needs from SAQ D to SAQ P2PE; effectively reducing costs, simplifying compliance processes, and upgrading security. 

Blue pill, red pill

If the blue pill represents ignorance and the red pill signifies reality, SAQ D is the former and SAQ P2PE is the latter. Here’s why: 


Notoriously known as “the final SAQ”, SAQ D serves as the default catch-all for merchants and service providers who cannot meet the criteria for other SAQs. This behemoth of a document (over 80 pages and 329 questions, we counted!) includes the full range of over 200 PCI DSS requirements, and will almost always include parts that are not applicable to all environments. Yet, those that do not qualify for P2PE are still on the hook for filling the SAQ D in its entirety.

As you can imagine, such an endeavor takes considerable time, skill, and experience to complete. Ultimately, this translates into interruptions of day-to-day business activities, consultations with expensive experts, and hours of precious time wasted.

Over time, organizations eventually learn that their resources are better spent on reducing PCI scope or outsourcing, but sometimes it’s too little, too late. They become entangled in a web of siloed networks that breed inefficiencies and require even more time, money, and expertise to escape.


Enter SAQ P2PE. Merchants who use validated point-to-point encryption (P2PE) hardware and secure electronic card data storage are eligible for this self-assessment questionnaire. However, in order to install P2PE devices, applications, and processes that encrypt data from the point of cardholder interaction all the way to a safe decryption environment, companies usually partner with an expert

The fruits of such labor far outweigh any expenses. If you’ve ever been to an amusement park, the analogy of a “fast pass” is too difficult to ignore. Filing the SAQ P2PE is like walking the red carpet and autographing a VIP list, with just 26 requirements and 35 questions to complete.

The gift that keeps on giving

But wait, there’s more! Implementing a PCI-validated P2PE solution virtually eliminates merchant liability for data loss and the fines that come with it, as such transactions are now fully encrypted. Processing begins to generate efficiencies measured in time and money. Operating on the “gold standard of payment security” offers a point of distinction for your business reputation while protecting your customers from retail data breaches.

Trust the process

The only hurdle left to jump is, who should you work with in order to swap out the SAQ D with the SAQ P2PE? Let us be your guide.

The Arrow Payments team believes that you should love your payments. We know that payment processing regulations and technologies are complex and ever-changing, making it difficult for you to keep up while still managing to grow your business. That’s why we’re here to help. 

With a proven track record of helping clients implement payment solutions that have processed billions of dollars without a single data breach, our team will assess and cater to the unique needs of your institution. We’ll ensure that the expectations of your customers and stakeholders are met, so that you can get back to what you do best. 

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