Wednesday Buzz: States Side With Retailers in Chip-and-PIN Fight

Retail associations gain support from state officials in an effort to encourage financial firms to use more secure cards. Plus: Finding the gold in Twitter metrics.

The attorneys general of nine states are the latest to ask financial firms to use “chip and PIN” cards, a move that earned applause from retail groups this week.

In a letter to the CEOs of eight major U.S. banks and card companies, the attorneys general urged an immediate switch to a chip-and-PIN system to protect against data security threats.

“The chip-and-PIN approach is considered by many to be the gold standard for payment card security,” the letter stated [PDF]. “Based on reports, countries that have implemented chip-and-PIN cards have seen significant reductions in fraudulent transactions.”

Banks have moved to computer-chip-based EMV cards in recent months and have incentivized retailers to follow suit by making retailers responsible for fraud charges on traditional magnetic strip cards. The new EMV cards, however, do not require the use of PIN codes, but instead rely on a middle-ground solution commonly known as “chip and signature.”

The retail industry argues that this shift, already underway to replace traditional magnetic strips, does not go far enough for security purposes. And with leading state officials and the FBI also speaking up on the issue, it’s clear that the retailers aren’t alone.

“Banks and credit card companies should heed the advice being given them and immediately implement chip-and-PIN,” National Retail Foundation Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mallory Duncan said in a news release. “That’s the standard used around the world and U.S. consumers deserve nothing less.”

The fight over chip technology is familiar to retail-industry leaders and banks in the U.S.: They’ve engaged in heated debate over the issue for years.

“Chip and PIN is the best available technology for widespread use today, and it’s time for banks and card networks to meet the investment being made by retailers to install payment terminals with credit cards that are proven to prevent all forms of fraud,” Brian Dodge, executive vice president for communications and strategic initiatives for the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said in a news release.

The Electronic Payments Coalition, which represents payment-card providers, says that the chip-and-PIN effort is misguided.

“Securing the payments system requires multi-layered security solutions,” said an EPC statement. “Instead of investing in this misguided campaign, retailer associations should work with their members to adopt these valuable data security solutions that the payments industry has committed to implementing.”

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Eli Zimmerman

By Eli Zimmerman

Eli is studying Journalism at the University of Maryland. When not studying, he likes to relax with a nice book or a couple rounds at the local boxing gym. MORE

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