Over the past several weeks both Mastercard and Discover have announced that they’re eliminating the signature requirement for purchases made in the US and Canada. The logic is to speed up the amount of time that it takes to complete a purchase, in hopes of getting consumers to favor a card that expedites the purchase process. Signature requirements are useless nowadays, given that they’re not actually verified at the time a purchase is made. If you’ve ever dealt with credit card fraud, you’re not even asked to look at receipts and confirm if a signature is from you. So it’s an outdated concept that really is just a security theatre of sorts.
I was wondering when American Express and Visa would follow Mastercard’s lead, and it looks like we now have our answer. American Express has announced that they’re eliminating their signature requirement worldwide as of April 2018. So not only are they matching Mastercard and Discover, but they’re one-upping them, as they’re eliminating the requirement globally rather than just in parts of North America. Keep in mind that American Express has much less acceptance globally, so it’s logical enough for them to try and implement something that gives them an advantage outside the US.
Per Amex’s press release:
“The payments landscape has evolved to the point where we can now eliminate this pain point for our merchants,” said Jaromir Divilek, Executive Vice President, Global Network Business, American Express. “Our fraud capabilities have advanced so that signatures are no longer necessary to fight fraud. In addition, the majority of American Express transactions today already do not require a signature at the point of sale as a result of previous policy changes we made to help our merchants.”
The need for signatures has declined around the world due to a number of advancements in the payments industry. These include the growth of contactless payment options, including card-based and mobile tap-and-pay methods, the global adoption of EMV chip technology, and the continued expansion of online commerce. American Express has also deployed advanced machine learning algorithms that allow for more precise detection of fraud while minimizing disruption of Card Members’ genuine spending.
Prior to this change, American Express has already eliminated signature requirements for transactions of under 50USD in the US, under 100CAD in Canada, and under 30GBP in the UK.
I think it’s worth noting that even once this change is implemented, merchants will still have the option of collecting signatures, it just won’t be required by Amex. So don’t expect that you’ll never be asked for a signature again when paying with an Amex, even though Amex doesn’t require it.
Now I guess Visa is the last payment processor to still have a signature requirement…