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MasterCard, Visa form group to encourage greater payment security


(Reuters) — Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. the world's two largest payment networks, have formed a new cross-industry group to improve payment system security following a number of high-profile data breaches.

The group, which will include banks, credit unions, retailers and industry trade groups, will initially focus on the adoption of the safer “EMV” chip technology in the United States, MasterCard and Visa said on Friday.

EMV chip technology, already used in Europe and Asia, stores information on computer chips rather than on traditional magnetic strips. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the companies that launched the technology.

The move follows several data breaches at U.S. retailers, including one at Target Corp. late last year involving the theft of about 40 million credit and debit card records.

“We remain insistent that U.S. retailers' customers be given the same protections as consumers in more than 80 countries who have both a chip and a PIN securing their credit and debit cards,” said National Retail Federation General Counsel Mallory Duncan in a statement.

MasterCard and Visa had already set a deadline of October 2015 for U.S. retailers to adopt the new payment technology.

But banks and retailers have been dragging their feet over the required upgrade, at odds over who should bear the cost, which experts say could be as much as $10 billion.