With fraud on the rise, credit card networks have realized that customer signatures are simply not a reliable way to authenticate someone’s identity — and some of the country’s largest retailers agree.
According to The New York Times, four of the largest credit card networks — American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa — will no longer require signatures to complete transactions.
In addition, Target has made the decision to eliminate the need for signatures this month, while Walmart has already stopped recording them on most transactions, according to a company spokesman. The plan is to soon get rid of them completely.
Each card network is setting its own set of rules regarding signatures. While American Express is getting rid of the requirement on all of its cards globally, Mastercard is dropping it only in the United States and Canada. Discover will no longer require signatures in the U.S. and Canada, as well as Mexico and the Caribbean. And Visa is making signatures optional in North America, but only for retailers with payment systems that read chip cards.
“The signature has really outrun its useful life,” said Linda Kirkpatrick, Mastercard’s head of business development in the United States.
In fact, credit card networks have been working towards getting rid of signatures for years, with most eliminating the need for one on transactions below a certain amount, usually $25 or $50, going back as far as 2010.
However, the networks allowed retailers to maintain their own policies, while also discouraging smaller merchants from getting rid of signatures entirely. For its part, Mastercard also wanted to wait until cards embedded with chip cards became commonplace before completely making a switch.
But now, the networks are sending a clear signal to retailers that signatures are obsolete.
“I think they’re done,” said Mark Horwedel, the chief executive of the Merchant Advisory Group, a trade group that represents large American retailers.