Target Tells Senate It's Speeding Up Plans to Accept EMV Credit Cards

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2014-02-04 Print this article Print

NEWS ANALYSIS: Target's CFO tells Senate Judiciary Committee that the retailer will complete the move to accept EMV or "Chip and PIN" credit cards by January 2015.

"The credit cards and debit cards most Americans use are surprisingly vulnerable to fraud, relying on decades-old technology that makes them susceptible," she said. When asked why it was taking so long for American consumers to be protected by the technology already in common use everywhere else in the world, Derakhshani said that it was because it costs money. Many merchants and banks are reluctant to spend the money if they don't have to.

Previous efforts to implement more secure payment card standards through legislation have spent years being tied up in conflicting demands between banks, merchants and card issuers, a problem that Sen. Warner noted in the February 3 hearing.

"We don't need another long-term fight between the bankers, the retailers and the card industry," Warner said. "Many of us have gone through that kind of battle." He said that a repeat of such a conflict in an attempt to get a solution serves no one. "The hackers in Russia, China, Ukraine and throughout the world are not waiting for America to get its act together on this issue. They are continuing to strike us every day," Warner said.

During the hearing Target's Mulligan revealed that the malware that infected the company's POS terminals was specifically designed to overcome attempts to detect it while making use of specialized features in the POS system to gather and exfiltrate the information without detection. He said that originally the malware was introduced into Target's system through a compromised contractor who had access to the company's data system.

If anything became apparent during today's hearings, it was that the greatest single obstacle to adopting a more secure payment card system in the United States is inertia. The banks are trying to avoid spending money on an improved system as are the card issuers. In addition, many merchants are fighting the increased security because they don't want to buy the chip and PIN terminals that are required to read the cards.

One other thing was clear and that was everyone said that they'd agree to move forward if legislation required it. But in the absence of legislation, there is one other force that can make a difference—consumers. If consumers begin to demand that merchants provide chip and PIN EMV support, the merchants will have little choice but to demand it from their banks and card issuers. In addition, it's worth seeking out companies that already support EMV cards, and shop there.


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