MOBILITY

Visa program streamlines global QR code payment adoption

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A new service is helping retailers adhere to newly introduced interoperability standards related to QR code-based payments.

In a move to standardize emerging cashless payments, EMVCo, the global technical body that manages the EMV Specifications, released new global QR Code Payment standards — a move that will allow retailers to process mobile payments made through the two-dimensional machine-readable barcodes. Visa and the other EMVCo members worked to develop these new globally interoperable EMV specifications.

Visa also offers a service that helps merchants accept these emerging digital payments. Called mVisa, the solution allows consumers to pay for goods and services by scanning a QR code on a smartphone or entering a merchant number into their feature phones.

Payment goes directly from the consumer’s Visa account into the merchant’s account, and provides real-time notification to both parties. mVisa is interoperable, meaning that the consumer and the merchant do not need to be customers of the same bank.

Merchants can participate in the program by enrolling the Visa Ready Program, which has adopted the interoperable QR standards. Once enrolled, merchants can freely accept payments from any country or bank given mVisa’s interoperability. Visa securely and efficiently processes each transaction, the company said.

Visa is already supporting merchant-presented QR technology in 15 countries around the world. India, Kenya and Nigeria are currently live with mVisa across both bank and merchant partners. Specifically, 33 banks and more than 328,000 merchants across India, Kenya and Nigeria have adopted the interoperable standards, as accelerating their QR code digital payment programs, according to Visa.

“We’ve already seen tremendous progress towards adoption of standardized, interoperable QR code payment systems in the developing world,” said Sam Shrauger, senior VP, digital products, Visa. “We are working with governments and central banks in countries like India to develop and implement QR code payment solutions that provide the convenience and security, and help the journey toward a cashless future.”

Visa intends to replicate this success in 12 other countries where mVisa has been enabled. This includes Cambodia, Egypt, Ghana, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda and Vietnam.

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ECOMMERCE

Study: Majority of retailers feel ‘vulnerable’ to a data breach

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

While the number of cyber-attacks have declined in the last year, a majority of companies still feel susceptible to data threats.

This was according to the “2017 Thales Data Threat Report, Retail Edition,” from Thales e-Security and analyst firm 451 Research. The study is based on responses from more than 1100 senior security executives, including in the retail segment, from across the globe.

According to data, 52% of companies experienced a data breach in the past, and 88% fear they are vulnerable to a cyber-attack. Meanwhile, 19% stated they are “very” or “extremely” vulnerable.

On a positive note, U.S. retail data breaches in the past year dropped from 22% in the 2016 survey to 19% this year. This number is lower than any other U.S. vertical polled for the 2017 report, including healthcare (20%), financial services (24%) and the U.S. federal government (34%).

However, U.S. retailers may be failing to learn from past mistakes. More than half (11%) of the 19% that were breached this year had also experienced a breach previously. When looking at global retail, a staggering 43% of global retail respondents reported a breach in the past year alone, approaching twice the global average, the study reported.

“These distressing breach rates serve as stark proof that data on any system can be attacked and compromised,” said Garrett Bekker, principal analyst for information security at 451 Research. “Unfortunately, organizations keep spending on the same security solutions that worked for them in the past, but aren’t necessarily the most effective at stopping modern breaches.”

Seventy seven percent (77%) of U.S. retail organizations are increasing IT security spending, but are not concentrating spending where it will make the most difference. For example, 88% of respondents selected network security as “very” or “extremely” effective at protecting data from breaches — even as network security fails to keep out attackers and is unable to protect data that is increasingly stored in the cloud.

Spending patterns also indicate a focus on what has worked in the past with the planned spending increases on network (67%) and endpoint (63%) protection. Data-at-rest approaches, which have proven to be effective at protecting the data itself, came in second from last (49%) in terms of retailer security spending priorities.

According to the report, 95% of U.S. retail organizations will use sensitive data in an advanced technology environment (such as cloud, big data, IoT and containers) this year. However, 53% of respondents believe that sensitive data use is happening in these environments without proper security in place.

“It’s encouraging that yearly retail data breach rates have finally started to drop, but rates are still quite high,” said Peter Galvin, VP of strategy, Thales e-Security. “With tremendous sets of detailed customer behavior and personal information in their custody, retailers are a prime target for hackers so should look to invest more in data-centric protection. And as retailers dive head first into new technologies, data security must be a top priority as they continue to pursue their digital transformation.”

To make this transition, organizations are encouraged to:

• deploy security tool sets that offer services-based deployments, platforms and automation;

• discover and classify the location of sensitive data within cloud, SaaS, big data, IoT and container environments; and

• leverage encryption and Bring Your Own Key (BYOK) technologies for all advanced technologies.

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DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION

One of the world’s fastest-growing character brands opens Times Square flagship

BY Marianne Wilson

An Asian brand whose characters were originally created for use as emoticons on a mobile messenger app has opened its first store in North America.

Line Friends, whose characters include whimsical-looking bears, ducks, bunnies and more, has opened a 4,628-sq.-ft. flagship in Manhattan's Times Square as part of the company's global expansion efforts. It currently operates 84 locations in 11 countries around the globe.

Line Friends is owned by Japanese social media giant Line Corp., whose global messenger app provides free messaging, along with video and phone calls. It is used in more than 230 countries and offers free one-to-one and group messaging, along with voice and video calls. The app counts 200 million active worldwide users. Line Friends features 11 characters that were originally created for use as stickers (or emoticons) on the app. It creates a wide variety of products, including dolls and stuffed animals, based on the signature characters.

Line Friends' Times Square outpost was conceived as a character merchandise store and entertainment space. Themed rooms bring out the unique personalities of the brand's main characters, and "Mega Brown," an enormous version of Line's signature bear, sits in the middle of the space. The store offers more than 440 character-branded items for sale, including items exclusive to the New York store, as well as a series of Scandinavian-style collaborations.

"The opening of our New York flagship store commemorates the one-year anniversary of our parent company's [Line Corp.] listing on the New York Stock Exchange, and paves the way for the official start of the next phase of Line Friends' global expansion," stated Line Friends. "We see particular significance in the fact that characters which got their start in digital media, not cinema or TV, are making such a bold entrance into New York City, the world's leader in cultural trends."

In celebration of the store's opening, a large-scale outdoor promotion using Times Square's LED screens filled the surrounding area with the full range of Line characters. In addition to the outdoor advertisements, digital signage on the store's exterior features branded content along with the company's newest products.

Line Friends, which ran a pop-up store in New York City in December 2014.

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