MasterCard, Visa make plays for payment security

Ahead of Friday's cybersecurity summit, Visa and MasterCard announced plans to ramp up security efforts for online and mobile transactions.

MasterCard and Visa are ramping up cybersecurity efforts for online and mobile transactions.

For MasterCard, this entails an investment of more than $20 million in cybersecurity-related technology. While that figure may seem like pittance coming from someone like MasterCard, it sounds like the financial services giant will spread it out among a few key enhancements.

This spring the company will launch Safety Net, a multitier threat-thwarting strategy that touches upon key layers in the payments ecosystem. It's designed spot fraud or cyberattacks before issuers and processors even take notice.

Then later this year, MasterCard says it plans to run a pilot program with First Tech Federal Credit Union that will enable consumers to authenticate transactions via biometrics, such as facial and voice recognition and fingerprint matching.

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Visa, meanwhile, says it plans to expand the Visa Token Service, a feature announced last fall around the launch of Apple Pay. It replaces traditional 16-digit account numbers with a randomly generated, one-time use code.

Visa says it has secured deals with device manufacturers and technology companies to deploy Visa Token Service as part of their mobile payments systems. The company has also extended the service to its online payment service Visa Checkout, as well as to e-commerce platforms and online retailers.

"In 2015, Visa will offer secure payments across a wide variety of devices, platforms and apps," said Visa CEO Charlie Scharf, in a statement. "In order to enable these innovative new ways to pay, we are deploying smart technologies that help to prevent fraud, while also maintaining consumer and merchant trust in digital commerce."

The announcements come as President Barack Obama and tech industry executives descend upon Stanford University for a first-of-its-kind cybersecurity summit discussing the prevention of cyberattacks against businesses and consumers.

However, not all of Silicon Valley's tech titans chose to make appearances at the event. While Apple's Tim Cook and MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga will be in attendance, notable absentees include Marissa Mayer, Eric Schmidt and Larry Page, Satya Nadella, and Mark Zuckerberg.

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