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No Signature Required

Say goodbye to putting pen to credit card receipts

Back of a credit card with and X on the signature

Oliver Munday

New technologies that make purchases safer and more secure have made the act of signing credit card receipts increasingly obsolete.

As of this weekend, you’ll be able to add “signing credit card receipts” to the list of former everyday tasks made obsolete by technology.

Effective April 14, major credit card companies, including American Express, MasterCard and Discover, are dropping the requirement that customers sign their receipts for credit and debit sales. Visa is dropping it too, but only at stores that are equipped to handle the more advanced EMV chip-embedded cards.

In truth, the requirement has been slowly disappearing for quite some time, with most cards recently only requiring your John Hancock for purchases of $50 or more. Now, the amount cut-off will be lifted, meaning shoppers can probably expect to move through checkout lines just a bit more quickly.

Originally, merchants and card companies required signatures on credit card receipts in order to help negotiate and refute contested sales. Now, with advancements in fraud protection technology, the signature is considered superfluous. The increasing ubiquity of encrypted EMV chips on credit and debit cards has beefed up security, as have new, more advanced protection protocols at credit card companies and payment networks.

“Our fraud capabilities have advanced so that signatures are no longer necessary to fight fraud," Molly Faust, American Express' vice president of public affairs for global merchant and network services, recently told USA Today.

The dropping of the signature requirement should make things quicker for customers and merchants alike. According to a 2017 Consumer Payment Study survey, nearly half of all shoppers — 44 percent — prefer to pay for purchases using a debit card. Fewer (33 percent) opt for credits cards, and only 12 percent of shoppers prefer to use cash.

It’s expected that some businesses, including restaurants, will continue to ask for a signature, if only to remind the diner that a gratuity for service can be added.

The cessation of required signatures will make for a “more consistent” shopping experience, said a Mastercard spokesperson, and it’s not the last change consumers will notice in the checkout process.  Soon, with the advancement of already-available contactless payment options such as Apple Pay and Samsung and advancing tech like biomarkers, including facial and fingerprint recognition, the physical credit card may not even be necessary.

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