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The retail industry’s new best friend


President Barack Obama has taken heat over his use of executive orders, but that wasn’t the case on Friday when retail trade groups lined up behind the president in support of wide ranging data security measures.

The president signed an executive order on Friday to allow the federal government to better secure payment transaction and sensitive data. The sweeping initiative known as Buy Secure is designed 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.

The president signed the executive order after remarks made at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau where he indicated more than 100 million Americans had been affected by data breaches during the past year. The aspect of the order which drew the most attention from retail trade groups was the president’s support of enhanced measures such as Chip and PIN technology in credit and debit cards.

In quick succession after the event, leading trade groups such as the National Retail Federation (NRF), The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), and the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) had all issued statements applauding the president’s action.

“We applaud the administration for taking proactive and positive steps by adopting PIN and chip technology for government-issued debit and credit cards, among other things,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “From insisting on PIN and chip cards to facilitating greater information sharing among retailers and others sectors, we are committed to finding the right answers with the latest technologies to stop these cyber thieves.”

Shay added, “this is not an issue about large retail versus small, or global financial institutions versus community banks and credit unions, or the federal government versus municipalities. We all stand together in seeking solutions to prevent criminals from accessing personal financial data regarding our customers, investors and citizens through preventable data breaches.”

RILA president Sandy Kennedy, who along with Shay, attended the signing of the White House Executive Order, echoed Shay’s sentiments.

"Retailers applaud the president’s action to advance card security. Today’s announcement should serve as a catalyst for widespread adoption of chip and PIN card security,” Kennedy said. “Every American cardholder deserves the highest level of security available today. The antiquated card security system in place today in the U.S. makes it far too easy for criminals to commit card fraud. Retailers are dedicated to protecting consumers and believe that Chip and PIN technology will better shield U.S. consumers from fraud, just as it has done for consumers elsewhere around the world.”

Lyle Beckwith, NACS’ SVP of government relations offered the convenience store industry’s perspective.

“NACS has been working for many years to promote the use of PIN technology, which has been successfully employed in Europe for years, resulting in dramatic reductions in fraud to the benefit of merchants and consumers alike,” Beckwith said. “PIN technology is the surest and simplest way to ensure card security. Even without the use of chip, requiring a four-digit PIN number on all credit card transactions would immediately eliminate the vast majority of card fraud.”

While the trade group’s focused on the security measures, the Executive Order was more encompassing. A White House briefing document with additional details can be viewed HERE or the president's comments can be read by clicking HERE.

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