Credit Cards Adding New Protections Against Cyber Theft

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Credit Card processors Visa Inc. (V) and MasterCard Inc. (MA) have announced new initiatives to augment security features for protecting cardholders against cyber thefts.

Visa said Friday that it is expanding the use of Visa Token Service, an innovative technology launched last September that replaces sensitive payment account information found on plastic cards, such as the 16-digit account number, expiration date and security code, with a unique series of numbers that can authorize payment without exposing actual account details.

More than 500 financial institutions have started to implement the service, which will expand to more payment environments in 2015, the San Francisco, California-based company said.

Meanwhile, MasterCard unveiled plans to invest more than $20 million in cybersecurity-related technology enhancements. The Purchase, New York-based company will roll out a pilot program later this year that will use a combination of unique biometrics, such as facial and voice recognition and fingerprint matching, to authenticate and verify transactions.

The company will also launch MasterCard Safety Net in the U.S. this spring to provide an independent layer of security on top of the tools and policies of financial institutions, by monitoring and blocking specific transactions based on selected criteria.

The announcements came as President Barack Obama, White House and federal officials, CEOs from a wide range of industries including Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) Tim Cook, law enforcement officials, consumer advocates and technical experts gather at Stanford University Friday for the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection.

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