Security

Obama to Sign Cybersecurity Order, Wants Safer Payments

U.S. President Barack Obama planned to sign an executive order on Friday to make federal payments safer, urging banks and retailers to follow suit after massive data breaches put millions of consumers at risk.

In remarks to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Obama will announce steps such as microchips and PIN numbers for government credit cards, and enhancing the safety of payment card terminals at federal agencies.

"(The president) is calling on all stakeholders ... to safeguard consumer finances and reduce their chances of becoming victims of identity theft - America's fastest-growing crime," the White House said in a statement.

Home Depot Inc, Target Corp, Walgreen Co and Wal-Mart Stores Inc will be rolling out secure chip and PIN-compatible card terminals in all their stores, most by January, the White House said.

Bank and retail industry groups have been at odds over how to improve the security of electronic payments for years, but massive data breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus Group have made the dispute more prominent.

Banks have wanted retailers to bear more of the costs of replacing cards after breaches occur, while retailers said banks had been slow to adopt new technologies. But both sides welcomed the news of Obama's executive order.

"We look forward to working with the White House, Treasury, Commerce and Homeland Security to share our best practices and new technologies that will aid in the fight against fraud," the American Bankers Association said in a statement.

The National Retail Federation also said it supported the measures to stop cyber thieves.

Obama has signed a series of other executive orders, such as on minimum wages and carbon emissions, which, while generally limited in scope, have been designed to either jumpstart more action or pressure Congress to act.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Steve Holland; Writing by Douwe Miedema; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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