Target CEO Brian Cornell spoke at Re/code‘s Code Conference in Palos Verdes, California today, where he confirmed that the company plans to offer in-store support for Apple Pay in the future. According to Cornell, while he’d love to have Apple Pay available “right now,” support will not be coming until Target upgrades its system to support integrated circuit credit cards to comply with new standards.
Integrated circuit cards (or chip-and-PIN cards) replace the magnetic stripe on a credit card or debit card with an embedded microchip. The microchip communicates with a supported point-of-sale system and transactions are authenticated through a PIN instead of a signature.
Chip-and-PIN cards are already used in many countries around the world because they’re believed to be more secure than traditional credit cards. In the United States, retailers are being encouraged to adopt point-of-sale systems that support chip-and-PIN cards by the end of 2015. As of October 2015, the four major credit card companies in the U.S. are introducing policies that will cause retailers who don’t support chip-and-PIN transactions to be responsible for any fraudulent charges made with chip-and-PIN cards.
Target is especially eager to move to a more secure transaction system following a major data breach in late 2013 that saw hackers obtaining payment information for approximately 40 million of its customers. The move is a major transition for Target, and Cornell says he doesn’t want to “distract the team” with work on other payment systems.
“Our focus is on getting chip-and-PIN in place in time for the holidays,” Cornell said at the second annual Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. “Down the line we want to accept all the types of payments that our guests want. But this decision was all about focus. … It is a major undertaking to convert to chip-and-PIN, and I decided that we can’t distract the team.”
Cornell says he has met with Apple CEO Tim Cook, and once the chip-and-PIN transition is completed, Target will be “open-minded” about supporting additional payment systems like Apple Pay. Target already supports Apple Pay in its iOS app.