US banks and retailers are locked in a slanging match after each accused the other of being responsible for the Target data breach.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) appealed to US Congress to force an immediate transition from magstripe to EMV debit and credit cards, provoking a furious response from the Independent Community of Bankers of America (ICBA).

NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay wrote in a letter to Congress: "The National Retail Federation and our 12,000 members are committed to combating this criminal threat to our industry and our customers, and we strongly recommend the adoption of meaningful steps to fight cyber theft and credit card fraud.

"For years, banks have continued to issue fraud-prone magnetic stripe cards to US customers, putting sensitive financial information at risk while simultaneously touting the security benefits of next-generation PIN and chip card technology for customers in Europe and dozens of other markets."

ICBA President and CEO Camden Fine was quick to fight back, saying: "The NRF should focus its attention on responding to the harm that security breaches at several retailers have done to consumers and their financial institutions rather than hurling false allegations blaming the banking industry for these retail breaches."

"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 at Target, Neiman Marcus and others will spur retailers to adopt security solutions going forward."

In a statement on its website, the ICBA also said that chip and PIN technology would not have prevented the Target breach.

Senior payments analyst at Timetric Vladimir Vukicevic said: "While the upgrade to EMV needs to happen in the US for the benefit of both consumers and the industry, in this instance the use of magstripe did not make it easier for for criminals to access Targets stored card data.

"Many other instances of fraud could be prevented though with the upgrade."

The US is one of the few major card markets that has not yet adopted EMV or chip and pin protected cards, making US credit and debit cards easier to exploit through data theft and skimming.

More than 80 countries across the world are already on the EMV standard.

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