MEMPHIS, Tenn., Oct. 2, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In the wake of cardholder data breaches at merchants like Target and Home Depot, First Tennessee Bank will soon introduce chip cards, which provide greater security for consumers. October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, giving a sharper focus to the bank's efforts to protect customers. First Tennessee is a subsidiary of First Horizon National Corp. (NYSE:FHN).

Widely used in Europe and Asia, chip cards – or EMV cards – have embedded microchips that authenticate cardholders and authorize transactions. EMV stands for the parties that initially developed this global technology for payment verification – EuroPay, MasterCard and Visa. Unlike traditional cards with magnetic stripes, no data is stored on the card itself, making it much more difficult to counterfeit the card or impersonate the cardholder.

First Tennessee plans to introduce chip cards in 2015. The chip cards U.S. banks issue to customers will still have a magnetic stripe until most merchants switch to chip card terminals. Many large national retailers are already installing the terminals, but full adoption may take years.

"There will be a period of adjustment for consumers," said Dondi Black, who manages retail payments for First Tennessee. "For example, chip cards are not swiped, but rather inserted into the terminal where they remain for the duration of the transaction." With some terminals, customers will be able to touch the EMV card to the terminal to complete the payment. First Tennessee's EMV cards will have this capability right away. "We believe customers are fatigued by numerous merchant breaches and will welcome a solution like ours that provides an additional layer of protection and makes the purchase process faster and more convenient," Black said.

As First Tennessee prepares to launch EMV cards, it is also working diligently to identify traditional cardholders who may have been victims of the latest breaches at Home Depot and other retailers. "We have sophisticated systems that are constantly monitoring accounts to detect any suspicious patterns of card activity," Black said, "and we move quickly to protect customers in the event of a compromise by blocking accounts and reissuing cards."

The introduction of EMV cards will reduce consumer impact from merchant breaches, which is why First Tennessee is so focused on this effort. Acceptance is expected to grow as consumers understand the benefits. "No system is fool-proof, but chip cards are a big advance in security," Black said. "No matter what criminals do, we'll keeping working to protect customers."

About First Horizon

The 4,200 employees of First Horizon National Corp. (NYSE:FHN) provide financial services through more than 170 First Tennessee Bank locations in and around Tennessee and 27 FTN Financial offices in the U.S. and abroad. The company was founded during the Civil War in 1864 and has the 14th oldest national bank charter in the country. First Tennessee has the leading combined market share in the counties where it does business, and FTN Financial is a capital markets industry leader in fixed income sales, trading and strategies for institutional customers in the U.S. and abroad. First Horizon has been recognized as one of the nation's best employers by Working Mother and American Banker magazines. More information is available at

CONTACT: Dondi Black, (901)523-4627         Jack Bradley, (901)523-4813

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