Street Talk

Street Talk: Local bankers won’t comment, but the credit union does

Horse power.

January 31, 2014
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Bankers across the nation were mighty peeved Jan. 22 when the National Retail Federation, responding to data breaches involving credit cards used at Target and Neiman Marcus, told Congress “the financial industry also has a critical role to play in making sure their cards are secure.”

The Independent Community Bankers of America responded the same day with a statement expressing “shock and outrage” at the NRF for “hurling false allegations blaming the banking industry.”

The NRF said “the safest cards are encrypted with PIN and chip technology, which is widely used in Europe.” Most cards in the U.S. are issued with signature and magnetic strips, making customer information vulnerable, according to the NRF.

“Hackers are using 21st century technology to take advantage of 20th century cards.”

ICBA honcho Camden R. Fine said, “Retailers and their processors — not banks — are responsible for the systems in their stores that process payment cards. ICBA hopes that the massive retail security breaches … will spur retailers to adopt security solutions going forward.”

Community banks have “worked aggressively” to protect customers following the recent security breaches, said the ICBA statement, and they’ve been “informing customers about community banks’ multiple layers of security protection, monitoring customer accounts for fraudulent activity, reissuing cards to customers as appropriate and educating customers on how to avoid fraud.”

Sandy Jelinski, president/CEO of Lake Michigan Credit Union, one of the largest CUs in Michigan, said LMCU is “committed to staying current with the most sophisticated and secure technology available to help protect the financial information of our card holders. As part of this commitment, a conversion from magnetic stripe signature and PIN-based card to a chip-based card utilizing EMV standards has been part of our ongoing security initiative.”

According to PCMag.com, EMV is a joint effort by Europay, MasterCard and Visa to enhance security by adding a smart chip to credit cards, requiring the user to enter a PIN. But PCMag noted that according to security firm Easy Solutions, not even EMV would have helped in the Target case because the malware that hit Target stole account information inside point-of-sale devices, where data is not encrypted.

“The main problem does not lie with the financial institutions,” said Jelinski. “The vast majority of national and local merchants have not yet converted their hardware systems to ones that are able to process and accommodate the usage of EMV cards.”

She agreed with the ICBA that “the retailers need to be held accountable for the massive retail security breach. This Target breach is costing the credit union industry, at last count, more than $30 million.”

LMCU has replaced numerous cards, not because of fraud “but out of our cardholders’ fear,” said Jelinski. “This is not our doing, but we have the expense.”

The Business Journal also asked Fifth Third Bank and Huntington Bank for comment on the NRF accusation, but both organizations declined.

Hunka hunka burnin’ love

Who would have thought that a man whose personal mantra more than 25 years ago was “I love living and I live for loving” would become an award-winning member of the West Michigan advertising community?

Certainly not the folks at the American Advertising Federation West Michigan. Yet, when the Silver Medal is handed out at this year’s Addy Awards, none other than Gregg Palazzolo, principal of Palazzolo Design, will be on the receiving end.

The Silver Award winner, it seems, is always feted with a short video highlighting his or her career. Buried deep in this year’s winner’s career (February 1987, to be exact) is a listing in sister publication Grand Rapids Magazine of “The Hunks: GR’s Top 10.”

Our favorite quote in the story revolved around Palazzolo’s philosophy regarding what makes a mate complete. “Nobody’s perfect and I think you need somebody to bounce feelings off of. They’re either Teflon or Velcro, and at least, to me, if you just throw (your feelings) out there with nobody to stick them on or let them slip off of (you’re not complete).”

Palazzolo just might want to view a personal screening of that video before the public showing.

Revved up

Dematic, a global manufacturer of material handling and logistics systems for factory, warehouse and distribution centers, will sponsor Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital at the Michigan International Auto Show at DeVos Place.

Dematic is a $6,000 Emerald Sponsor for the hospital at the Auto Show Charity Spectacular, made possible by the Grand Rapids New Car Dealers Association. The Charity Spectacular is a preview of the show Feb. 5, while the show itself runs from Feb. 6-9.

Dematic’s donation to the children’s hospital will support programs and services for the hospital’s patients and families.

“The DeVos Children’s Hospital brings necessary care to Grand Rapids and the country, including many of the places where our employees live and work,” said John Baysore, president/CEO, Dematic North America.

“As a father of six, I understand that parents want the best health care for their children and believe this sponsorship advances research and critical care options for families here in Grand Rapids.”

Penny thoughts

Meijer is offering its younger customers a chance for a co-starring role in an upcoming television commercial — at the cost of one cent. The commercial is scheduled to debut across the Grand Rapids-based retailer’s five-state footprint in 2014, and will feature images of children riding its iconic penny horse, Sandy, over several generations.

Meijer is asking customers to submit photos featuring their children or their younger selves riding Sandy through a “Star With Sandy” contest application on the Meijer Facebook page. Ten winners will receive $100 Meijer gift cards, and all photos have the chance to appear in the commercial, according to Nicole Laughlin, vice president of brand development.

“Sandy is unique to Meijer and we’re pleased to have her as part of our shopping experience,” Laughlin said. “We look forward to sharing these special moments in our advertising to help us say hello to new neighbors and bring a smile to seasoned Sandy riders in the communities we’ve served for much longer.”

The iconic mechanical horse made its debut with the opening of Thrifty Acres in 1962, when the late Fred Meijer, who had a long history with horses, learned of 10-cent pony rides at a supermarket in Nebraska. Fred thought a dime was a lot of money and decided to charge one penny, a price that has since become a symbol of family shopping at reasonable prices.

Sandy has been a fixture at the front of all Meijer stores across the Midwest for decades, and is often the last thing a child remembers on the way out of the store.

“My dad believed in making things affordable for our customers, and that included Sandy,” Meijer Co-Chairman Doug Meijer said. “Riding Sandy is a memory shared by so many children and parents who shop at our stores. But the real magic happens when those children grow up and bring their own kids back for a ride.”

The Star With Sandy contest is open through Feb. 6.

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