Retailers Laud Obama's Data Security Initiative

Retail associations are cheering President Barack Obama's move to secure transactions and sensitive data through the new BuySecure Initiative.

The BuySecure Initiative, which the president signed Friday morning, will provide consumers with more tools to secure their financial future by assisting victims of identity theft, improving the government's payment security as a customer and a provider, and accelerating the transition to stronger security technologies and the development of next-generation payment security tools, according to a White House statement.

As part of an executive order, newly issued and existing government credit and debit cards must be enabled with chip and personal identification number (PIN) technology.

"While there is no silver bullet to guarantee data security, the president is signing an Executive Order to implement enhanced security measures, including securing credit, debit, and other payment cards with microchips in lieu of basic magnetic strips, and PINs, such as those standard on consumer ATM cards," said the White House Office of the Press Secretary. "He is calling on all stakeholders to join the administration and a number of major corporations in driving the economy toward more secure standards to safeguard consumer finances and reduce their chances of becoming victims of identity theft — America's fastest-growing crime."

NRF, NGA Applaud

The National Retail Federation (NRF) and National Grocers Association (NGA) expressed similar sentiments.

"From insisting on chip-and-PIN cards to facilitating greater information sharing among retailers and others sectors, we are committed to finding the right answers with the latest technologies to stop these cyber thieves," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "This is not an issue about large retail vs. small, or global financial institutions versus community banks and credit unions, or the federal government vs. municipalities. We all stand together in seeking solutions to prevent criminals from accessing personal financial data regarding our customers, investors and citizens through preventable data breaches."

"We appreciate that the President shares this important goal, and is moving the ball forward to broader adoption of secure card technology and payment platforms," noted NGA President and CEO Peter J. Larkin. "We look forward to working with the Administration and all stakeholders to develop innovative payment systems, such as tokenization and mobile technology, that will strengthen customer data protection."

RILA Says Merchants Are Ready

This two-factor authentication technology is in place in nearly every other G-20 country today and the reduction in fraud has been substantial, noted the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA).

Many merchants already have chip and PIN-enabled terminals in place and the entire retail industry is on track to have completed an enormous investment to be able to accept chip and PIN cards next year, the association added.

"Retailers applaud the president's action to advance card security. Today's announcement should serve as a catalyst for widespread adoption of chip-and-PIN card security. Every American cardholder deserves the highest level of security available today," said RILA President Sandy Kennedy. "The antiquated card security system in place today in the [United States] makes it far too easy for criminals to commit card fraud. Retailers are dedicated to protecting consumers and believe that chip-and-PIN technology will better shield U.S. consumers from fraud, just as it has done for consumers elsewhere around the world."

Obama also revealed the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection will be held later this year to promote partnership and innovation.  The summit will bring together major stakeholders on consumer financial protection issues to discuss how all members of our financial system can work together to further protect American consumers and their financial data, now and in the future.

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