American Express, MasterCard and Discover have all announced plans to eliminate the need for a signature to process face-to-face transactions. Industry observers expect Visa to follow suit later in 2018.
What this means in practice for retailers and restaurant owners is a (slightly) faster checkout. Many experts estimate that the signature can take about three seconds to complete. So, over the course of a busy day, those seconds can add up to several minutes of additional time to process more transactions. It also eliminates some of the ‘friction’ associated with checkouts.
“Our consumer research found that a majority of people believe it would be easier to pay and that checkout lines would move faster if they didn’t need to sign when making a purchase,” Linda Kirkpatrick, Mastercard’s executive vice president of merchants and acceptance in the U.S., wrote in an article posted to Mastercard’s website.
American Express said it would eliminate the need for signatures at its merchants world-wide beginning in April of 2018.
Discover said that in April of 2018, it would no longer require signatures at merchants within its network in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Over at Mastercard , the company said it would no longer require signatures at merchants in the United States and Canada after April of 2018.
All three companies emphasized that the removal of the signature requirement will not affect security.
“Our secure network and state-of-the art systems combined with new digital payment methods that include chip, tokenization, biometrics and specialized digital platforms use newer and more secure methods to prove identity,” Kirkpatrick wrote.
Similarly, Discover also pointed out how its digital capabilities have made signatures unnecessary.
“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,” said Jasma Ghai, vice president of Global Products Innovation at Discover.
In a company announcement last month, American Express noted that new technologies in the payments industry have caused a decline in the need for signatures. Those advanced technologies include the growth of contactless payment options, including card and mobile tap-and-pay methods, the global adoption of EMV chip technology and the continued expansion of online selling.
Mike Cook, Senior Vice President and Assistant Treasurer at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., praised American Express for removing the signature requirement.
“Having to sign a receipt can be a hassle for customers and is not necessary to prevent fraud at the point of sale,” Cook said in a press release. “We’re pleased American Express has decided to eliminate its signature requirements, which will promote a more seamless shopping and checkout experience for our customers.”
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