Earlier this month the White House held the White House Cybersecurity Summit at Stanford University. This was meant to bring together privacy and security experts, law enforcement, tech companies, and other interested parties with a goal of developing ways to move forward while striking a balance between privacy and security.
Many invitations went out to tech companies, but only Tim Cook made an appearance. After the summit, the White House released information about the actions it would take, including offering Apple Pay as a feature of federally issued debit and credit cards.
Tim Cook speaking at the White House Cybersecurity Summit.
This falls under the BuySecure Initiative, a way for the government to assist business in protecting consumer data. One of the ways the government will contribute to these security efforts is by working with Apple, Visa, and MasterCard to make Apple Pay an option for federal cards such as DirectExpress and GSA SmartPay cards. This means the debit card used to receive Social Security, or the federally issued credit card, will be less susceptible to hacks and make for more convenient payments (where accepted).
Another interesting note is that Visa is committed to "tokenization" of payments by the end of Q1 2015. Tokenization is one of the pieces that makes Apple Pay more secure, by substituting a credit card number with an authenticated token that changes every time it's used. This means even if an unsavory character were able to get that number, the number would do them no good since it's not an actual credit card number.
While none of this means that things will magically be more secure overnight, it does show more awareness of online security, which is never a bad thing. Not to mention an active effort by the US Government to offer Apple Pay for its security features is quite the feather in Apple's cap.