Amex Latest To Ditch The Signature

Payments processor American Express announced Monday (Dec. 11) that it will stop requiring merchants to collect signatures for purchases at the point of sale (POS).

In a company press release, American Express said the changes will take effect beginning in April 2018 and will apply to all merchants accepting American Express worldwide. The move will provide a more consistent and speedier in-store checkout experience for merchants and American Express cardholders. It will also help reduce merchant operating expenses tied to retaining customer signatures.

“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 of global network business for 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.”

According to American Express, the need for signatures has been declining around the globe thanks to payments advancements such as contactless offerings, the global adoption of EMV chip technology and the continued expansion of eCommerce. American Express is using advanced machine learning algorithms to detect fraud and, at the same time, minimize the disruption to the cardholder and his or her spending. The company is the first to announce the change on a global basis and said the policy will cover purchase transactions for all amounts at the point of sale. 

American Express isn’t the only payment company doing away with signatures at the POS. Last week, Discover announced its customers will no longer be required to provide a payment signature when they make retail purchases with a credit card or debit card at the POS in the Discover Global Network in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. In a press release, Discover said the change will take effect in April 2018 and was prompted by company efforts to improve the speed of the checkout process, all while maintaining a high level of credit card security for customers and merchants.

Discover has already embraced several other digital authentication technologies such as tokenization, multi-factor authentication and biometrics, which are more secure than requiring a signature and provide a more seamless payment transaction.