Credit Card Signatures No Longer Required in North America



Big changes are coming to the world of payments. Starting this month, most major credit card companies in the U.S. and Canada (including Visa, American Express, Mastercard) will no longer require customers to sign a receipt or bill to make a transaction.

Not only will this speed up the checkout process (and improve the customer experience), but it turns out that signatures are no longer the most efficient way to combat fraud. And merchants rarely check signatures, anyhow, making the mimed credit card slip signing action to get the bill in a restaurant a thing of the past—along with the action it’s miming.

To see how this is playing out, Mastercard, for example, has informed merchants in the U.S. and Canada they can forgo cardholder signatures for in-store credit and debit purchases starting April 13. The benefit to businesses and customers, Mastercard explained, is to speed customers through checkout lines and give merchants greater control over the customer experience.

Merchants may decide they still want to ask for a signature, but legally they will no longer be required to do so by the credit card companies. They can also decided when to implement the change after April 13.

Follow the Customer

Mastercard announced the transition last October, along with research showing that more than 80% of its in-store transactions in North America already did not require a cardholder signature at checkout.  .

“In our digital, fast-paced marketplace, consumers appreciate any opportunity to save time. This is why Mastercard led the charge to officially ‘retire’ cardholder signatures from store receipts,” said Linda Kirkpatrick, EVP, U.S. Market Development at Mastercard. “Merchants recognize that cardholder signatures have limited use, and are embracing this change to create efficiency for their customers.”

MasterCard selfie app

Already shoring up tech solutions to speed up and secure the payment process, Mastercard has been adding new security and authorization solutions in recent years, including the successful chip migration, tokenization and biometrics (such as paying by selfie/facial recognition or by voice) as well as early detection systems to minimize the need for cardholder signatures in fraud prevention.

Its Zero Liability fraud protection policy means that cardholders are never responsible for card compromises. In addition, contactless or tap-and-go payments are set to take off with a majority of new payment terminals equipped with the necessary hardware.

Customers should be fine with the changes. According to Mastercard’s research, nearly one in five Americans (17%) don’t remember the last time they used their signature outside of a sales receipt, while 20% of those 18-34 years don’t remember vs. 14% of those 55 or older.

Signatures have gone the way of checks: Outside of sales receipts, over half (55%) of consumers only sign their name a few times a month or less. Almost three-quarters of Americans (72%) of customers surveyed said they get annoyed when the person in front of them in a store line takes a long time to check out.

While one in three Americans dislike writing in script (32%), younger consumers (18-34 year-olds) are nearly two times more likely to dislike writing in script (41%) compared to those 55+ (24%). Now, the only place they may have to sign for a transaction is Square and other mobile readers that require a signature.



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