Posted by William Charles on October 20, 2017
Credit Cards

Published on October 20th, 2017 | by William Charles

37

Mastercard To No Longer Require Signatures From April 2018 Onwards

Mastercard has announced that after April 2018 they will no longer require signatures at checkout for any credit or debit purchase in the U.S. and Canada. They claim that currently over 80% of in store transactions in North America already do not require a signature at check out. Mastercard is the first credit card payment network to announce a plan to phase out the signature requirement. I classify the signature requirement as security theater, it makes people feel safe but does little to actually prevent fraud. You don’t have to believe me:

“Signature is worthless as a form of authentication,” – Walmart senior VP and assistant treasurer Mike Cook

Even if I sign as complete scribble it’s rare for the purchase to be declined. The next logical step would be to require a PIN be used, as this has been proven to reduce fraud rates along with the EMV chip requirement.

 



37 Responses to Mastercard To No Longer Require Signatures From April 2018 Onwards

  1. Craig Bell says:

    I’m surprised they are phasing this out without the PIN requirement, as there is little to protect you should your card be stolen or lost.

    • The problem is that the signature requirement in practice doesn’t really provide any additional security.

      • Josh says:

        Honestly I’m surprised they kept it this long. Chip + PIN would obviously be more secure than Chip + Signature too.

        Not to mention I don’t believe the signature ever gets reviewed except if there is a dispute I would think.

        • dmoney says:

          That’s where it’s worth something, in fraud disputes. It can validate that it wasn’t you. Although they probably will continue to take our word for it, now the banks could become less likely to believe us when we dispute.

          • AJ says:

            I’ve had several disputes with all credit card companies (VS, MC, AMEX) and not once did a signature verification come up. Chip and Pin ftw.

      • Gerry says:

        Yup, it is just security theater and adds nothing. The idea that a clerk would be some kind of handwriting expert is just silly. The one thing that completely irritates me however is when some clerks demand you show ID before they will accept the credit card.

        That is against VISA/MC policy and yet they still do it. Identity thief is already a big enough problem and I don’t want some stranger pawing over my DL just because I want to buy some groceries.

        How hard is it to get the message out that merchants can’t require ID?

        • Mark says:

          It’s actually against policy?

          I’ve been IDD in malls when I used my mom’s card(with her permission) and stores like h and m and gap actually didn’t let me purchase anything with her card.

          • Gerry says:

            You’re conflating two different things… it is typically against cardholder terms to let someone “borrow” your credit card. If you want an person to be authorized on the account then you follow the process for that.

            Since your name is Mark, it was obvious you weren’t your mother… therefore the decline.

  2. Jon says:

    Since I got my first card a couple decades ago I’ve always treated the signature pad as a place to practice my art. Tiny boats, airplanes, stick figures… all happily authenticate me.

  3. Peter says:

    Chip and Pin here we come.

    • Justin says:

      With the announcement, I think it’s safe to say the opposite – Pin will NEVER come to America.

      Mastercard doing away with the signature will make it faster and easier to pay with a MasterCard. Visa/Amex/Discover will inevitably follow suit. To your average consumer, not having do do a meaningless scribble is a benefit.

      If any bank (Visa/Mastercard/Amex/Discover) ever starts to require a pin, a notable number of consumers will get annoyed and not use the card. The potential loss of customers reluctant to do chip and pin is why it’s never been pushed for adoption in the states by any issuer. No bank will want to be first – the belief is they would loose more customers than they would save in loss prevention. The only way chip and pin would come here is if the Pin was instead of the signature (which no bank wanted to do) or if it becomes a legal mandate (seems highly unlikely / unprecedented).

      • Abey says:

        Good point!

      • Chris says:

        I’d agree. I usually use Apple Pay at QuickChek, a local convenience store chain, when I purchase something for lunch. At first I used my Discover card, but after authenticating with fingerprint and holding my phone at the terminal, it would ask me for a signature of all things. Really, for a ~$4 sandwich and drink it required a signature. So I’d have to put my phone down, grab the stylus thing, scribble something, and press OK.

        One time I switched to my AMEX card, and I authenticated with my finger and tapped the phone at the terminal and a few seconds later the receipt printed out and that was it. Really easy and less hassle.

      • cm says:

        The linked article on Walmart VP’s comments — https://www.pymnts.com/news/2015/walmart-emv-signatures-are-worthless/ — actually points out that CHIP’n’PIN is already in the past.

        It also notes that most of the credit card fraud comes from counterfeit cards (e.g., cloned ones), and it’s not nearly as trivial to clone a chip card — chips are supposed to be impossible to clone, so, the biggest loophole should already be closed by the chip alone.

      • Francesco says:

        I agree. Recently I was back in my home country and I was quite annoyed of cashier attendants wanting to see my ID at every credit card purchase – although that was normal for me before moving to the US.

      • Dan says:

        America! Where you can always count on arriving to the lowest common denominator.

      • artgriego says:

        Well, dipping your chip already takes way longer than swiping the mag stripe, and it seems entering a PIN could be introduced in a way that adds no extra time to the process. Hell, PIN is easier than signature. My guess is that PIN will be introduced as an option to the consumer; most people will not want to deal with fraud even if they are not ultimately liable either way. And if banks can come up with some effective marketing to convince people how much safer it will be to set up a PIN, I could see it taking hold.

        Or, wishful thinking…

    • Josh says:

      I am hoping for this as well. I think it would reduce fraud greatly.

  4. Vic says:

    PIN would definitely help, a lot, since it actually needs verification.

    I still remember when people used to verify signatures with the one on the card, that’s about 15 years ago, in Taiwan.

    A few years ago I was in Korea visiting a friend, she showed me how they sign the signature pad (mostly electronic): randomly scribble with the stylus while not looking at it at all. She said everyone she knows does that in Korea.

  5. Lrdx says:

    Good riddance!

    There are terminals that reject my signature, because it’s too short. F you, that’s how I sign. That’s what’s on the back of the card. I have to scribble something different than my signature to get the charge processed. FFS.

  6. josh says:

    glad to see this change finally happen. worth mentioning that signature is not solely an authentication method. It also serves as legal protection in case someone disputes a charge. Its proof that the person agreed to that specific amount.

  7. Joe says:

    this is probably a good move, especially since i don’t think they’re any real-time signature validation anyway.

  8. Greg says:

    Should be interesting to see how service industries respond to this change when it comes to tipping. Will we finally include tipping in the prices like Danny Meyer (Shake Shack founder) has been pushing in his restaurants or will we finally get card readers at the table like Canada and Europe? Or will we keep the same process but without a signature?

  9. iahphx says:

    Eliminating the signature requirement is a good idea because, as folks say, it’s currently just a joke. I do wonder why our chip credit card transactions in the USA are slower than in other countries (and significantly slower than the old system where you slid your card through the reader).

    It’s a no-brainer to go to chip and pin, and I’m skeptical that people would ditch their credit cards just because they had to punch in 4 numbers. It’s often weird overseas when I’m the only customer who doesn’t have a pin and has to sign. I try to remember to stick a pen in my pocket so the clerk doesn’t have to go look for one.

  10. JamaicanTraveller says:

    As a consultant who implements retail systems – I can say that there usually isn’t any verification of the signature scribbled on the pin pad.

  11. Darvin Ray says:

    No signature, no pin. Yup. This will be a fun card to use outside of USA.

  12. Darvin Ray says:

    I seriously hope they make it a chip and pin card instead.

  13. Huck says:

    Only issue I see with pin is that issuers tend to wipe their hands clean of any responsibility regarding fraud when it’s charged via pin…..

  14. Hai P says:

    This is getting worse, I don’t really care if they said signature is worthless, but it would hold them off at checkout. Now they can just run faster :D.
    My mom have a Discover card and they just send the new card with everything printed at the back, all in one place. How convenient for the fraudsters to take a picture and use it. It make the card look nicer in the front as there is no name. Maybe these CEO don’t know how massive it is a fraud and scam in Asia compare to the US as more and more people traveling over there now.

  15. Dave c says:

    This won’t even be news to most people. I don’t think anyone will start using a MasterCard more because they don’t need to sign. Most transactions don’t require a signature anyways, I think it’s under $25 or something, which is most people’s POS transactions. I think a chip and PIN would be more annoying and take longer. God knows why it takes so long when I stick it in there and now I have to do a PIN? I don’t really care one way or the other because another 4 seconds of my life is no big deal, BUT these are the things the average Joe gets really pissed about.

    • Justin says:

      This will be so much better in Europe. It is such a hastle to sign. Usually I have to use debit at machines because there is no signature options. Also, supposedly Mastercard has better foreign transaction fees but all my foreign transaction fee free cards are Visa.

      What’s a good Mastercard with no foreign transaction fees?

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  17. J Brittle says:

    Throw me an extra 0.5% rebate and I’ll tap in a PIN all day long.

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