FINANCE

Chip and PIN gains influential supporter

BY Dan Berthiaume

The National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association are aligned with the nation’s top law enforcement agency in an effort to ensure consumers have access to the most secure payment methods.

The FBI has released an official advisory warning consumers that EMV-compliant cards are still vulnerable to fraud and PIN authentication is the best means to prevent personal data theft. According to the FBI. EMV cards can still be counterfeited with stolen card data obtained on the black market.

In addition, data on an EMV card’s magnetic strip is still vulnerable to theft via POS malware, and the FBI also supports warnings about EMV cards not being effective in stopping card fraud in online or telephone transactions.

The FBI advises consumers to be vigilant in handling, signing, and activating a card as soon as it arrives in the mail, reviewing credit card statements for irregularities, and promptly reporting lost or stolen credit cards to the issuing bank. More significantly, the FBI is officially endorsing the chip and PIN authentication standard.

“When using the EMV card at a POS terminal, consumers should use the PIN, instead of a signature, to verify the transaction,” says the advisory. “This fully utilizes the security features built within the EMV card. Consumers should also shield the keypad from bystanders when entering their card PIN.”

The FBI further encourages retailers to require consumers to use a PIN for each transaction. If a consumer uses a signature, retailers are advised to ask to also see a government-issued photo identification card to verify the cardholder’s identity.

Card issuers and banks in the U.S. are currently issuing EMV cards that use a signature, rather than a PIN, for user authentication. Retailers cannot require customers to use a PIN for a card issued without one, and card network rules prohibit merchants from requiring a PIN when one exists.

A number of retail trade organizations have been publicly calling for the adoption of chip and PIN, which is the global standard, and this FBI advisory lends them new credibility. The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), which has strongly backed U.S. adoption of chip and PIN, issued a statement in support of the FBI advisory.

“Retailers have long-argued that PINs are essential to providing cardholders with the security that they deserve,” said Brian Dodge, executive VP of RILA. “The FBI’s alert should be a wake-up call to the banks and card networks that continue to stand in the way of making PIN authentication the standard in the U.S. just as it has been around the world for years.”

The National Retail Federation (NRF), another strong proponent of chip and PIN authentication, also released a statement in support of the FBI’s position.

“What the FBI is saying is what the rest of the world already sees as common sense,” NRF senior VP and general counsel Mallory Duncan said. “It’s the right thing to do, and we hope the banks are listening. Retailers are determined to protect their customers. That’s why we are pushing the banks to use all of the security the new cards are capable of providing, not just half. They shouldn’t lock the front door but leave the back door wide open.”

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FINANCE

Biggs named Walmart CFO

BY Mike Troy

After more than two decades in top finance roles at Walmart, Charles Holley, 59, is stepping down as CFO at the world’s largest retailer.

Succeeding Holley will be Brett Biggs, a well-rounded finance executive who joined Walmart in 2000 and has held key roles in each of the retailer’s divisions.

“Brett is a strong leader whose broad experience uniquely qualifies him to lead our finance and strategy areas,” said Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon. “Having had a variety of important roles in all three of Walmart’s business segments, Brett is well prepared. He thoroughly understands Walmart’s operations, how we intend to compete in a dynamic and changing retail environment and how we can best serve customers, associates and shareholders.”

Since January 2014, Biggs has served as executive VP and CFO of Walmart International. Prior to that, Biggs served as CFO Walmart U.S. from January 2012 until January 2014, and as senior VP of Sam’s Club operations, from September 2010 until January 2012. Biggs joined Walmart in 2000 and served in a variety of roles including senior VP and CFO of Sam’s Club, senior VP corporate finance and assistant treasurer, and senior VP, international strategy and mergers and acquisitions.

Prior to joining Walmart, Biggs worked at Leggett & Platt on its mergers and acquisitions team. Prior to that, he was an accountant at Phillips Petroleum Company, now ConocoPhillips, and an auditor at Pricewaterhouse LLP, now PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

In succeeding Holley, Biggs replaces an executive McMillon credited with guiding Walmart global finance and strategy areas during a period of immense growth and change.

“He has been instrumental in shaping Walmart’s strong financial position while driving significant shareholder returns,” McMillon said of Holley. “One of Charles’ strengths is also talent development and succession planning. Under his leadership, Walmart’s finance function has transformed into a best in class organization that is both strong and deep, highlighted by today’s appointment of Brett as our new CFO.”

Holley joined Walmart in 1994 and became CFO in 2010 and also served as CFO of the international division. He also held roles as executive VP, finance and treasurer, chief risk officer, controller and senior VP of finance over accounting, tax, financial reporting and investor relations.

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MOBILITY

Twitter amplifies ad offering

BY Dan Berthiaume

Placing ads in tweets just got easier and more precise for retailers.

It will probably not have the same impact on social commerce as Twitter’s recent introduction of a Buy Now button, but the social platform is opening its Amplify ad program. In a beta offering, Twitter is letting advertisers select content categories and audiences they want to target with preroll video ads.

Twitter automatically and dynamically places the ads into embedded videos tweeted by publishers, with the publisher receiving most of the ad revenue through an automated revenue-sharing arrangement. The main difference from the traditional Amplify format is that advertisers no longer have to partner with a specific publisher to get their preroll ad placed.

Twitter plans to expand the new, more open Amplify out of beta both in the U.S. and globally. For retailers, this is a chance to target their ads more precisely based on video content and additional audience targeting, rather than by general audience demographics of a specific publisher.

More granular targeting should lead to more customer engagement and ultimately more sales, especially with the new Buy Now button that lets consumers make purchases without having to leave Twitter.

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