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Starting today, three major US credit card companies—Mastercard, American Express, and Discover—are removing the requirement for a customer signature when making in-store purchases. The Verge has confirmed that Visa will be introducing the same change later this month.
An increasingly archaic system, signatures have been getting phased out for years, mostly thanks to EMV chip and contactless payment technology. Mastercard says that more than 80 percent of in-store transactions it processes now don’t need a signature.
Some larger retailers, including Walmart, have already stopped recording signatures on most transactions. But the credit card companies are only making them optional—it will be up to the retailers themselves whether they want to continue using the system.
Removing the need for signatures should speed up checkout lines at stores, encourage merchants to move over to EMV, and replace signature verification with a more advanced, secure technology. The change will also eliminate the occasional requirement for a signature when purchasing items over $50 using Apple Pay.
“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.”
American Express is removing the signature requirement in the US and other countries around the world, while Mastercard’s change only affects the United States and Canada. Discover users won’t be required to sign their names in the US, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean, and Visa is making it optional in North America.
Signatures are still mostly only used within the US. The majority of other countries, such as the UK, switched to chip-and-PIN authentication years ago.