MasterCard has announced that it will no longer require signatures beginning in April of 2018. This really comes as no shock considering that cardholders currently don’t have to sign for more than 80% of all MasterCard North America transactions, according to Linda Kirkpatrick, MasterCard executive vice president. “We are at a transitional period in payments,” she said. “The way our rules are written, merchants don’t even have to ask for the signature 80% of the time, but we felt it was important to go the final mile.”
As most people know, merchants will take just about any ole scribble you can provide them with when they request your signature, so signatures have been nothing more than a formality in many cases over the past few years.
MasterCard assures us that this new change doesn’t mean a reduction in security:
It is important to know that the levels of security for credit and debit cards remains a priority. What consumers will find reassuring is that removing the need to sign for purchases will not have any impact on safety. 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 stated retailers can continue to require a signature at point of sale, but it won’t be mandatory come next April. “Merchants selling bigger ticket items may still want to have it there, because there is some element of signing [off on it] that feels like it adds a layer of protection,” she said. “There is literally just no reason not to give our merchants a choice here—and from what we are hearing so far, they are over the moon about it.”
MasterCard is also touting the convenience factor of this change:
[W]e know that convenience is also a large part of what consumers want when they are shopping and paying. Removing the need for a signature is a change our merchant partners support. The move will help merchants speed customers through checkout, provide more consistent experiences for every customer with every purchase and should decrease costs associated with safely storing signatures
Most consumers are also apparently on board with the new changes. I personally have not felt that signatures have offered an extra level of security for a long time and so I welcome the change. I think it will lead to more effecient transactions and lower the costs for merchants as we usher in a new era of credit card verifications methods that will hopefully prove to be superior over time.