No longer necessary to sign on the dotted line

 

Just like the Walkman, flip phones and floppy discs, mandatory signatures during payment processing is becoming a relic of the past.

 

As of April 2018, the four major credit card issuers (American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa) will no longer require a cardholder’s signature to complete a purchase.

 

According to an article from The New York Times, a handwritten authentication for transactions have been seen as unnecessary or outdated since the addition of EMV chip card technology to credit cards. While the change is optional for merchants, major retailers such as Target and Walmart have announced that they intend on eliminating signatures in the near future.

 

A Change a Decade in the Making

 

This change is not as sudden as it may initially seem. Many retailers began to phase out signatures, particularly for transactions below a certain amount, as far back as 2010. The rise in popularity of online shopping also helped reinforce the trend of signatures being seen as unnecessary.

 

This was a departure from the origins of credit card slip signatures and their importance in the industry. Originally intended as a security measure to safeguard against identity theft and fraud, retailers could be held liable for not verifying that the signature on a credit card slip did not match the signature panel on back of the card.

 

How EMV Helped Make Signatures Obsolete

 

As American merchants began to embrace EMV chip in card technology, credit card companies slowly began to de-emphasize the need for signatures. Mastercard, in particular, waited until EMV technology had become more widely accepted to begin to phase out signatures.

 

They, like Discover and Visa, will roll out the new signatureless policy across North America in 2018. American Express is eliminating signatures globally effective immediately.

 

To learn more about this evolution in payment processing and what it can mean for merchants, be sure to reach out to our payments experts with any questions.