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Chip-and-PIN technology gets a fresh look

Chip-and-PIN technology gets a fresh look

In the wake of the massive payment-card data breach at Target Corp. — and the launch of Congressional hearings on the matter — a form of credit-card security widely used in Europe is likely to get some fresh attention in the U.S.


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While “chip-and-PIN” security has been discussed in the past, the latest incidents of data theft have brought it back to the table as a viable alternative to the current magnetic-stripe “swipe” technology now used for credit cards in the U.S.

The technology requires cardholders to enter a personal identification number, or PIN, in addition to having their chip-embedded card read by a device.

Jennifer Hatcher, SVP of government and public affairs, Food Marketing Institute, said chip-and-PIN technology is the credit-card solution that FMI’s payment committee is “looking at most closely.”

Read more: Target breach underscores vulnerabilities: former FBI director

“We think the chip-and-PIN idea has a tremendous amount of merit,” she said, although she noted that it would take considerable time for U.S. retailers to roll out the technology, and to establish a standard. Europe uses the “EMV” standard — Europay-MasterCard-Visa — but that would be unworkable in America’s more diverse payment environment, Hatcher noted.

Greg Ferrara, VP of government affairs at National Grocers Association, cautioned that while chip-and-PIN technology might be a step up from the magnetic stripe, it is not necessarily more secure, and said NGA would continue to encourage card issues to work with merchants on developing more secure solutions.

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