If ever banking needed strong leaders, it's now. The industry has been forced to face the undeniable truth that its own innovative ways to extend more credit and make more money - and consumers' and investors' willingness to follow blindly into that breach - have brought the global economy to the brink. The guidance out of this catastrophe is coming from the Federal government, and the industry can only follow.

But there are two lesser, though still pivotal moments facing financial services in which bank CEOs and CIOs can flex their leadership muscles, and improve not only risk practices but reputations. The first relates to the Heartland Payment Systems data breach in which only God and the hackers seem to know how many accounts were compromised by a sniffer picking up data as it passed through Heartland's system unencrypted. Heartland CEO Bob Carr has called for the payments industry to finally solve the problem by encrypting card data from the point of sale until it reaches the card associations and back again. Plenty of products exist to make this happen; all it would take is Mastercard, Visa, American Express and Discover and the top issuing banks to step up and say, "do this" - either via the PCI Security Standards Council or through their own mandate and investment.

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