by Susanne Posel
President Obama has taken the reins in signing an executive order to implement the BuySecure Initiative (BSI) to “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.”
To make the private sector more secure, Obama’s BSI will:
- Make Federal payments more secure to help drive the market forward: The President’s Executive Order (EO) lays out a new policy to secure payments to and from the Federal government by applying chip and PIN technology to newly issued and existing government credit cards, as well as debit cards like Direct Express, and upgrading retail payment card terminals at Federal agency facilities to accept chip and PIN-enabled cards.
- Companies join national effort to improve transaction security: Home Depot, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart will be rolling out secure chip and PIN-compatible card terminals in all their stores — most by January 2015. Also in January, American Express will start a new program to support small businesses upgrading their point of sale terminals to more secure standards. Finally, Visa will launch a new program to educate consumers and merchants on chip and other secure technologies, sending experts to 20 cities in a national public service campaign.
The new standard for the federal government is the chip to PIN cards (CPIN) that are facilitated by government programs such as SmartPay® and Direct Express®; including the beginning of a “a replacement program on January 1, 2015, and will, within the calendar year, issue over one million new, more secure government payment cards.”
This includes “updating the CPIN card terminals” for federal agencies processing consumer sales with the help of a plan devised by the US Department of Treasury “which establishes requirements that federal agencies must follow when receiving credit and debit card payments when using Treasury’s collection system.”
This includes the Obama administration informing the public to build “public-private awareness” to the necessity of a CPIN card switch in the US.
Back in January, the National Retail Federation (NRF) wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner to implore Congress to adopt the CPIN cards with legislative backing in order to ensure the public is protected by the federal government against hackers.
Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the NRF wrote : “Our partners in the financial sector have a critical role to play in making sure their cards are secure,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in the letter. “For years, banks have continued to issue fraud-prone magnetic stripe cards to U.S. customers, putting sensitive financial information at risk while simultaneously touting the security benefits of next generation ‘Pin and chip’ card technology for customers in Europe and dozens of other markets.”
The NRF correlates the small percentage of CPIN cards being used in the US as problematic in shielding the public from hacker attacks.
Two months later, Visa and MasterCard combined forces to revamp payment processes and up security measures in the wake of retail data breaches.
This new super-group of credit issuers will include:
• Banking institutions
• Credit unions
• Retail corporations
• Industry trade groups
The purpose of the conglomerate is to push for the adaptation of the EMV chipped card so that activity can be monitored for customer safety.
Both MasterCard and Visa laid out an ultimatum to the public that by October 2015 all retailers must adopt this new payment system or suffer the consequences.
Ryan McInerney, president of Visa asserted: “The recent high-profile breaches have served as a catalyst for much needed collaboration between the retail and financial services industry on the issue of payment security.”
The Smart Card Alliance (SCA) believes that “chip-based payment cards and terminals” are the only way to protect customer funds.
The SCA explains that “EMV chip cards contain embedded microprocessors that provide strong transaction security features and other application capabilities not possible with traditional magnetic stripe cards.”
In 2011, MasterCard positioned itself against cash payments in a “war on cash” which focused on markets such as India to bring the “cashless society” to reality.
Ajay Banga, chief executive officer of MasterCard Worldwide spoke at the Fletcher School about the advantages of a cashless world and outlining the “challenges of moving away from cash.”
Banga said that there probably will not be a completely pure cashless society; however under the guise of improving the current payment system, cash is not sustainable.
MasterCard is dedicating itself to a strategy that will set a standard and become influential to the future of payments. By coercing urbanized centers to the trendiness of going cashless, their influence on the behavior of consumers and their perception of being cashless can ensure that this move is made.
The focus on developing nations such as India and Nigeria are because their governments are willing to take “foreign aid” in exchange for enslaving their citizens.
Banga explained: “I absolutely think that electronic payments can be helpful. The problem is that the money has to reside somewhere… If immigrant communities find it difficult to put their money with a bank, I don’t know if they’ll do it with a cell phone provider either. The challenge is finding a way to anchor mobile payments for the future.”