President Obama has launched an initiative through an executive order called “Buy Secure” to help motivate companies to implement safer payment methods.

“Starting next year, we’re going to begin making sure that credit cards and credit-card readers issued by the United States government come equipped with two new layers of protection: a microchip in the card that’s harder for thieves to clone than a magnetic strip, and a pin number you enter into the reader just as you do with an ATM,” Obama said in a speech at the CFPB Oct. 17.

“We know this technology works. When Britain switched to a chip-and-pin system, they cut fraud in stores by 70%,” he noted.

The CFPB is working with banks to help make it easier for consumers to discover if fraudulent charges have been made to their account, Obama said. The Federal Trade Commission will also add new features to IdentityTheft.gov, and will work with credit bureaus to dramatically cut down on the time it takes for victims to recover their stolen identities, he added.

Obama highlighted The Home Depot, Target, Walgreens and Wal-Mart as retailers that have agreed to adopt chip-and-pin technology by the beginning of next year. He also said American Express pledged $10 million to replace outdated card readers at small businesses and MasterCard has said it would provide customers with free identity-theft monitoring and resolution support.

Eric Richard, CUNA SVP and general counsel, said CUNA commended Obama for calling on Congress to stop the data breaches with cybersecurity legislation to protect American consumers.

“Credit unions have repeatedly called for legislation to clarify companies’ obligations when sensitive data is breached for the safety and security of their members,” he said.

John McKecknie, partner at consulting firm Total Spectrum in Washington, said any attention to the issue is welcome, but it’s disappointing merchants are staying off the hook as those responsible to the consumer.

“More transparency and better notification by the retailers would be a start, but that’s not addressed today. Instead, by turning this issue into the narrow one of card security, rather than the broader one of data security, the White House has missed an opportunity,” McKechnie said.

NAFCU President/CEO Dan Berger, who attended the president’s speech at the CFPB’s headquarters, said national data security standards are key to protecting consumers’ personal and financial data.

“NAFCU thanks the president for his leadership in addressing the growing cyber threats to consumers’ data, and we will assist wherever we can to help credit unions and their members prepare,” Berger said. “We will also continue our efforts to win passage of legislation to hold retailers and merchants to national data security standards.”