Data Portability Anniversary

Two years ago, we announced the Credit Card Data Portability standard, complete with a tongue-in-cheek video and an open letter to the CEO's of Paypal and Authorize.net.

Our objective was to do for credit card data what the 1996 Telecommunications Act did for phone numbers: enable the transfer between providers to avoid hostage-like situations. We wanted to eliminate vendor lock-in and promote free market principles of fair competition. For the actual standard (portabilitystandard.org) we made sure that it was vendor agnostic (including making no mention of ourselves) and solicited opinions from many providers to facilitate broad cooperation.

At the time of our announcement, there were few, if any, providers that would even consider allowing a merchant to move their stored credit card data to a different provider. Additionally, 95% of the merchants we spoke to had never even considered the risk of storing their customers credit card data with a payments provider and never getting it back if they decided to change vendors. To them, it was an unknown and uncontemplated risk with significant implications.

When merchants would ask their provider to return or transfer the data, the excuses offered ranged from security risk and PCI Compliance limitations to "we just can't get it!".

Our announcement and effort was met with deep skepticism from industry people, merchants, and the press. We were told that we were too small to make a difference and that incumbents would never participate. Despite of being dismissed, we kept pressing the effort.

To our pleasant surprise, within a year after the announcement, we had completed a credit card data transfer from nearly every major provider in the industry, which was something inconceivable just a year before. The issue had gained broad awareness among merchants and it became a standard question while considering a payments vendor.

Today, a majority of payments companies have embraced the principles we established, some openly and proudly and others silently and reluctantly.

We're thrilled with the progress and proud that we made a difference in our industry and made it a better place for merchants.

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Braintree We enable beautiful commerce experiences so that people and ideas can flourish. More posts by this author

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