Several merchant and banking trade groups, including Food Marketing Institute and National Grocers Association, have formed a new partnership to focus on payment card security.

The partnership comes in the wake of the massive payment-card data breach at Target Corp. late last year — one in a series of such cyber attacks that have also hit several food retailers.

“The food retail industry, with its rich history of a vigorous connection with its shopper, stands ready to work with all stakeholders across the payments chain – processors, credit card companies, equipment manufacturers and banks – to find real improvements in increasing customer data security,” said FMI president and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin, in a statement. “We welcome this cross-industry partnership.”

Read more: Target confirms massive data breach

Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO of NGA, said, “Independent grocers take protecting our customer's information very seriously. We look forward to working together with our industry partners and stakeholders to enhance cyber security measures, prevent and prosecute criminal attacks, and importantly to protect the trust that our customers have in their independent grocer.”

Other trade groups involved in the partnership include National Retail Federation, Retail Industry Leaders Association, Financial Services Roundtable, American Bankers Association, American Hotel & Lodging Association, The Clearing House, Consumer Bankers Association, Independent Community Bankers of America, International Council of Shopping Centers, National Associations of Convenience Stores, and National Restaurant Association.


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The partnership, in a joint statement, said it will seek to encourage collaboration across the industries, focused on the following principles:

• Information sharing is paramount to warding off cyber attacks and protecting data. We are stronger together than divided and must warn each other about cyber threats being waged against all our defenses. The financial services industry has a robust information-sharing mechanism through the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) that could serve as a forum or model for further information sharing across sectors.

• Other innovative technologies must be implemented, such as systems that will transmit payment data in a way that is unique and dynamic to reduce the risks. Ongoing innovation will be needed to outpace the threats.

• We must forge partnerships among all stakeholders of the payments ecosystem to collaborate on long-term, comprehensive solutions to the threats that are growing to card-not-present situations and the mobile environment.

Read more: Independents can avoid security breaches: NGA speaker

The participating trade associations plan to form working groups made up of themselves, member companies and other stakeholders. The working groups will be focused on increasing threat information sharing, innovative technologies that add safeguards to protect consumers within the payment system and other areas like national data breach laws. The forum will also be a platform “to discuss areas of disagreement and seek solutions,” the groups said in the joint statement.

“This partnership is a positive step in the right direction, since there is no single solution to the complex issues surrounding cyber security,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF. “That is why it is important to bring stakeholders together as we seek answers, share solutions and implement programs that not only prevent hackers from breaching data systems, but protects the consumer by shutting down these criminal enterprises.”

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