AmEx and Visa Announce Their Decision to Drop Signatures Requirements

At the close of 2017, American Express Co. announced that it would become the third of four major U.S. card brands to cease requiring signatures for transactions beginning April 2018.  Visa was the last card brand holding onto this rule. Then, on Jan. 12, Visa announced it would also be laying the signature requirement aside.

Here is a quick recap of each card brands decision to ditch signatures for transactions:

  • MasterCard announced in October that it would make signatures optional in April. It also shared that more than 80 percent of the in-store (point-of-sale purchases) transactions it processed did not need a signature.
  • Discover released a statement on Dec. 6 saying that, it too, would abandon the signature requirement. Discover’s vice president of global products innovation, Jasma Ghai, explained that “With the rise in new payment security capabilities, like chip technology and tokenization, the time is right to remove this step from the checkout experience.”
  • American Express closely following Discover’s announcement, American Express stated on Dec. 11 that it would being dropping the signature requirement globally in April.
  • Visa announced in a blog post Jan. 12 that it will make “the signature requirement optional for all EMV contact or contactless chip-enabled merchants in North America, beginning April 2018.”

Why Signatures are Unnecessary

The payments landscape has evolved considerably over the years. It has now reached the point where signatures are no longer necessary in the battle against fraud. This is great news for both consumers and merchants. New technologies have made payment processing much safer for merchants and consumers alike. In addition, getting rid of signatures considerably speeds up the in-store purchase experience.

“Mastercard’s decision to end signature verification acknowledges what retailers have long argued, that signatures are a costly yet feeble means of securing transactions,” says Austen Jensen, vice president for government affairs at the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

But will these changes – the rollout of no-signature policies – endanger cardholders’ data in any way? Industry insiders say it is very unlikely. Typically, merchants do not check a cardholder’s signature (on paper receipt or electronic screen) against the signature on the back of the card. In fact, many cardholders never sign their cards. If merchants did check, it could be a valuable boost in security. But because most do not, the signature has no real value.

Senior vice president of operations at the Merchant Advisory Group, Laura Townsend, agrees completely. In a recent statement, she shared her belief that “new and improved” digital authentication tools like face, voice and fingerprint recognition will be much more valuable in boosting security for in-store transactions.

Where to Find Secure Payment Processing Solutions

Have your heard about the changes to AmEx signature requirement? Do you want to find payment processing solutions for your business that help you keep fraud and chargebacks at bay? If a “high-risk” categorization has prevented you from finding the services you need, consider working with an alternative provider like eMerchantBroker.com.

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