We are living in an age where commerce moves at incredible speed, utilizing evolving innovative technologies. However, these innovations are being met with sophisticated hacking techniques, a rise in malware and pervasive fraud. Still, card transaction infrastructures are generally safe; so while the industry works to stay ahead of hackers, it’s also important to reassure consumers about the measures the industry takes to mitigate risks.

Symantec’s 2013 Norton Report revealed that the global price tag of consumer cybercrime is $113 billion annually. While the form of digital pickpocketing seen at various retailers does not represent all cyber crime, it is clearly a form of fraud causing tremendous damage. It is a risk consumers, retailers and the financial services community must recognize, but steps can be taken to provide all involved with greater peace of mind.

Approximately half of all card fraud globally takes place inside the United States. Add to this the notion that the U.S. is home to a quarter of all payment cards in the world and it’s evident that there is a big fraud problem. One way to dramatically make card payments in the U.S. safer is through the adoption of EMV chip technology.

The current state of fraud in the U.S. is, to a certain extent, the consequence of a country being among the last major markets to migrate to EMV. Its adoption would make card payments less susceptible to fraud through skimming, theft and cardholder delinquency.

With the promise of EMV, what does the future hold for PCI? EMV and PCI are not substitutes but rather complementary technologies. PCI is protecting sensitive card account data and PIN numbers, further preventing exploits through other channels such as for online and mobile credit and debit card transactions. Next to EMV and PCI, there are further technologies that help ensure security, such as tokenization solutions, in particular for mobile and online transactions.

The industry has taken measures to limit or mitigate the risks related to card data breaches, such as re-issuance of cards or imposing tighter spending controls. The introduction of EMV chip technology will further limit the potential for fraudulent card transactions in the aftermath of a breach. Even though card transaction infrastructures are generally safe, especially with the enhancement of EMV, consumers still may feel at risk. This begs the question: What needs to be done to restore a sense of safety and security to credit and debit card usage?

Processes such as advanced simulation to test chip security on credit cards help to protect the financial services community and consumers from hacker attacks. These types of modern testing for vulnerabilities are critical to meet advanced fraud activities and ascertain the future needs of transaction security. Banks and merchants can incorporate the data and research to make better decisions on the implementation of payments technology.

As the industry collectively works to innovate payment systems, it is imperative to understand how to get past a system’s security, as it helps identify effective countermeasures and ways to stay ahead of hackers. Hence, thorough security assessments of transaction infrastructures are called for to improve fraud detection policies and mitigation measures. This will further help alleviate the fear and chances of credit and debit card data breaches occurring.

The issue of transaction security affects every country and touches consumers across the globe, impacting the targeted individuals as well as financial institutions and government agencies. Maintaining security is the key to increased adoption of more advanced payment technologies, which benefits consumers, retailers and the financial services community with easy and efficient processes.

The payments industry is continuously developing new innovations, evolving alongside consumer and retailer expectations. Considerable progress has been made in recent years such as enabling payments through digital channels. Commerce through mobile phones is literally available at consumers’ fingertips.

To help safeguard these innovations, it is critical for industry stakeholders to conduct the proper research and testing to help ensure safety and security. Such work is also important to help investigate and assess how long such innovations may remain secure, and what new security measures may need to be put into place.

The investment in security now will help to safeguard current transactions and payments, creating greater peace of mind for of all parties involved while also protecting future innovations.

Originally published by the Credit Union Times.