In a recent update to their website, MasterCard has altered its merchant levels to match Visa’s, and is giving Level 2 merchants until December 31, 2008 to validate compliance. This is another entry in the long standing debate about compliance dates, and what that means for merchants.

Most of these merchants are already being fined in conjunction with the Visa Compliance Acceleration Program if they have not validated, so the extended dates may indicate fines or tougher pressure by MasterCard as the date passes (this is PURE speculation). This should not add any pressure to existing Level 2 merchants that have not validated, though having 2 card associations looking at you is definitely worse than one.

This post originally appeared on BrandenWilliams.com.