By Stephanie Miller


5 Min. To Read

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By now, we are all incredibly familiar with the drill at the cash register. You ring up your items, swipe your credit card (or, as is the new norm, insert a chip), sign a receipt or digital screen, and head out the door. Well, Mastercard is planning to make that process one step shorter in the near future, by eliminating a signature requirement on purchases made with their credit card.

If you’re like me, your first reaction was one of concern. No signature?! How will Mastercard prove that I was the one who made the purchase? Won’t buying with a credit card be less secure now?

However, Mastercard insists that my reaction is actually the minority, and that most cardholders aren’t too concerned about the change. When you take a step back and look at it, I guess the change isn’t really all that different from what we already have.

I was interested to learn that over 80% of Mastercard transactions in-store already don’t require a signature to complete. Combine that with the ever-growing number of online purchases, and you have a very small number of transactions that actually still require a cardholder’s signature.

I mean, think about it: how often do you really sign your name at the checkout? It’s not required at the pump. It’s not required for my one-click Amazon buys. I rarely need to sign at the grocery store. Slowly, and without us even noticing, the practice of signing your receipt has slowly faded away, becoming an outdated practice.

Mastercard conducted consumer research and found that a strong majority of people believe that eliminating a signature requirement on credit card transactions would make lines move faster and make the shopping process easier. Merchants also support this change, citing expedited checkout processes and lowered costs associated with storing customers’ signatures as their primary reasons.

In keeping with this school of thought, Mastercard has simply decided to stop requiring any signatures (ever) at checkouts in the U.S. or Canada, beginning April 2018.

Mastercard has a reputation for security, and firmly believes that the elimination of the signature at checkout will have not have a negative impact on fraudulent transactions.

"It is important to know that the levels of security for credit and debit cards remains a priority,” states executive vice president, Linda Kirkpatrick. “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."

To support her point, we have seen a decrease in fraudulent activity over the past year or so, with the implementation of EMV (chip-enabled) credit cards. I expect that, in the near future, we will see even more advancements with our credit cards and transaction processes, to further enhance security and eliminate fraud.

Since the beginning of credit cards, our signature has been the icing on the cash register cake. With the arrival of online shopping, credit card chips, and Apple Pay, though, we have lost our need for the John Hancock. Mastercard deciding to eliminate signatures entirely, starting in April 2018, will be a progressive change – will Visa, Discover, and American Express follow?

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