Over the past couple of months we’ve seen American Express, Mastercard, and Discover announce that they’re eliminating the signature requirement for purchases in many regions. 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 So it’s an outdated concept that really is just a security theatre of sorts.
Given that three of the four biggest payment processors have announced that they’re eliminating the signature requirement, I was curious to see when Visa would follow. Well, they’ve finally done so, with a few caveats.
Beginning in April 2018, Visa is making the signature requirement optional for all chip-enabled merchants in North America. Per the press release:
To continue the ongoing migration to EMV chip, and to bring increased security and convenience to the point of sale, Visa is making the signature requirement optional for all EMV contact or contactless chip-enabled merchants in North America, beginning April 2018. Simultaneously, Visa continues to invest in emerging capabilities that leverage advanced analytics and biometrics to define the future of payments security.
“Visa is committed to delivering secure, fast and convenient payments at the point of sale,” said Dan Sanford, vice president, consumer products, Visa. “Our focus is on continually evolving the market towards dynamic authentication methods such as EMV chip, as well as investing in emerging capabilities that leverage advanced analytics and biometrics. We believe making the signature requirement optional for EMV chip-enabled merchants is the responsible next step to enhance security and convenience at the point of sale.”
As you can see, merchants will still have the option of collecting signatures. Furthermore, they’re specifically only offering this for chip-enabled merchants, though that should cover a majority of merchants nowadays.
I certainly welcome this change!