MasterCard Tiptoeing out of PCI Shadows

The credit card company rebuffs an NRF data proposal and rolls out a PCI training program for retailers.

When it comes to Payment Card Industry issues, its been Visa that has taken center stage. Heck, most of the other card players dont even want to be seen peeking from the wings.

To be certain, MasterCard, American Express and others have been active in PCI circles, but theyve been quite willing to let Visa take all of the public heartaches.

Is that now changing, though maybe only a little bit? When the National Retail Federation asked that retailers no longer be required to retain credit card data after authorization, it was MasterCard—not Visa—that issued a stinging statement saying the NRF plan was "inaccurate" and "unjustified."

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read more about TJXs response to its data breach.

MasterCard was technically correct in denying that it requires retailers to retain that data. Sure, they can delete it and risk being unable to defend against chargebacks, but thats its decision, MasterCard said. "A merchant may choose to store no cardholder data at all based on their own risk assessments and individual approaches to managing data storage according to their own business needs," read the statement.

Thats true, but as a practical matter, retailers have no real alternative and MasterCard knows it. MasterCard also said that the cards account number "may be stored in a truncated format which minimizes risk." Thats more fair, but it doesnt eliminate the risk, nor reduce it as much as the NRF proposal. In the full MasterCard statement, the company never actually directly addresses what is says are the problems with the NRF proposal.

MasterCard Oct. 15 also rolled out its PCI Merchant Education Program, which the card firm described as offering "complimentary education and training for acquiring banks and merchants to better their understanding of PCI DSS through interactive sessions. Eight Web-based modules featuring actionable advice from MasterCard and industry experts are now available online at"

That training program offers three approaches: on-site, live Web meetings and pre-recorded content offered online.

Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman has tracked high-tech issues since 1987, has been opinionated long before that and doesnt plan to stop any time soon. He can be reached at [email protected].

To read earlier retail technology opinion columns from Evan Schuman, please click here.

/zimages/5/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on technologys impact on retail.