No more signatures.
Visa said Jan. 12 in a blog post that it is making the signature an option — and no longer a requirement — for EMV chip-enabled merchants across North America. That shift, for contact or contactless chip card payments, goes into effect in April 2018.
At the same time, Visa said in its posting that it will continue to invest in initiatives tied to advanced analytics and biometrics. Those investments and focus, the company said, will help “define the future of payments security.”
Over the last seven years, as chip technology has entered the market, Visa has deployed more than 460 million chip cards and readers at more than 2.5 million U.S. locations, according to the post.
Dan Sanford, the company’s VP of product initiatives, said that “Visa is committed to delivering secure, fast and convenient payments at the point of sale. Our focus is on continually evolving the market toward dynamic authentication methods, such as EMV chip, as well as investing in emerging capabilities that leverage advanced analytics and biometrics. We believe making the signature requirement optional for EMV chip-enabled merchants is the responsible next step to enhance security and convenience at the point of sale.”
In news previously related to the waiving of signatures, Mastercard, Discover and Amex also had done away with the requirement across all cards, including magnetic stripe and chip.
Visa chip technology inspires confidence in a smarter world: Every time a chip credit card is used, a unique code is created for an additional layer of security.
The Visa announcement differs slightly from what the other networks have announced, since signature-as-an-option will only be offered on transactions made using chip cards. As has been previously reported, in the two years since EMV chip cards launched in the United States, fraud at the physical point of sale has declined by 66 percent. This is attributed to the deployment of EMV technology at the in-store point of sale and consumers’ use of chip cards. The option for the merchant to eliminate signatures as an added measure of authentication is unlikely to create risk for chip card transactions.
What remains to be seen is how consumers will react to not having to sign at the point of sale, particularly with certain types of transactions. For most, signatures at the point of sale have been relegated to the type of penmanship that would make first-grade teachers reel in horror, thus doing little to “authenticate” a customer making a transaction. Consumers may also find it time-consuming to sign, particularly when they are asked to sign for a $5.00 cup of coffee and a muffin when all they want to do is grab their breakfast (or lunch) and go.
Yet signatures are still regarded as ritual, especially for larger purchases, as representing an acknowledgement and commitment to making a purchase of importance. It may be the case – though it remains to be seen – that even with signature options, consumers may still want to put pen to paper (or digital screen) when some sort of psychological importance is attached to the event or price tag underlying the commerce at hand. If so, merchants may preserve that option, at least for a while.