Visa pilots new payment card security initiatives

Visa pilots new payment card security initiatives

In addition to OfficeMax and Fifth Third Bank pilots, Visa plans new alerting for consumers.

William Van Orman, treasurer for OfficeMax, said the retailer had rolled out its challenge-response process to about 1,000 of its stores across Illinois, Indiana and Florida. The process, which has required changes to point-of-sale systems at these locations, involves asking customers ZIP codes or other personal information after swiping a card. The responses are then matched against responses to these questions that were previously selected by the consumer.

For the pilot, the emphasis was on simply trying to understand what kind of changes needed to be made to the point-of-sale systems, and the kind of impact the new authorization process would have on merchants and consumers, Van Orman said. Customers were informed that the data was being requested for a pilot project and had the chance to opt out if they chose to, Orman said. After an initial six-month period, the pilot project has been extended by another four months at the request of Visa, he said. "Overall we think it's a successful project," he said.

Richey said that while these projects were not quite ready for broad roll-out yet, they were indicative of the kind of approaches that could be used to make stolen data useless at the point of sale.

Richey also highlighted Visa's efforts to give consumers more tools to fight fraud. One of them is a new service called the Transaction Alert system, and is currently available to Chase cardholders with Android-based smartphones, she said. The service provides real-time alerts of purchase activity on their mobile devices, which consumer can tailor using information such as whether they were online transactions, and locations where the transactions were made. The program will become available to all card issuers later this year, she said.

The other program, which is still in development, is called Targeted Acceptance and would allow consumers to set personal limits on how, where and what amounts their cards can be used for. The service is already available to commercial customers and will be rolled out to consumers as well, Richey said.

Richey said Visa was not opposed in the future to the idea of using chip and PIN technologies that are used widely in Europe. They require consumers to enter PIN numbers, instead of signing, when making credit card transactions. The approach is widely considered to be safer than purely signature-based transaction, but it would require considerable investments on the part of card issuers to make the change. Richey said today that Visa "fully" supports the technology and said it was not a matter of "if" but "when" and "how" the technology would be adopted in the U.S.

Dave Weick, CIO at McDonalds Corp., discussed during a panel a new plan to minimize threats against payment card data. He described how the fast-food giant was exploring how to completely segregate all payment card data and transactions from the rest of its internal network. Weick said McDonalds had developed a way to accept payment card transactions without letting any of that data touch any of its own internal systems, including its point-of-sale devices.

No one in the company's internal system would have access to any cardholder data, and even the portion of the network that deals with card transactions would be handled by an outside vendor, Weick said. "We are very early on in this," he said, adding that the plan was to first roll out the approach to company-owned restaurants before deploying it across all franchises.

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