No, this isn’t an April Fools joke. Although, because it was announced on April 1, one might think that. A banking change went into effect over the weekend, which now means that you don’t have to sign your credit card receipts anymore. This is great news. Starting April 1, the big four credit card companies – American Express, Discover, Visa, and Mastercard – will no longer require a signature from businesses, when a customer pays with a credit card.
There are a few restrictions, however. Some shops and restaurants may still ask for your signature, but this is the beginning of the end of this awful authentication system. I mean, I used to buy things on my parents credit cards and I was always able to sign for them. Especially if it was my mom’s card. She has one of those names that could be male or female, so businesses didn’t really know. Not only that, I was really good at forging her signature. (Far better at forging her signature than my father’s). My point is, signing for something doesn’t mean anything anymore. Here’s another example – my sister-in-law and I have the same initials. So I’ve signed for her on things when she wasn’t there to do it herself. No, I’m not charging things to her credit card, but I think you can see where I’m going with this.
American Express, Mastercard, and Discover are doing away with signatures for every merchant in North America, and American Express is killing signatures worldwide. Visa is a little more limited, as it will still require a signature if you swipe your card rather than using a chip. The majority of stores now have chip-enabled readers, however, so using the magnetic strip should be a thing of the past in the very near future.
Visa is also going to do away with the requirement that businesses collect a customer signature. The problem with this is that it’s based upon the individual business’ accounting practices, so it might be a while before this requirement is gone completely. And it’s about time. The change is being facilitated by the switch to chips on credit cards, rather than magnetic strips. The chips are much more secure and difficult to clone, and combined with algorithmic security detection by the card companies, it’s helping reduce credit card fraud to impressive lows, despite data breaches being at an all-time high.
That’s not to say that the chip cards are perfect. There is still a potential for your card to be compromised but the instance is much lower. Mobile payments are still by far, the best way to go, but not every merchant accepts Apple Pay or another type of mobile payment. Like I said before – it’s about time. The chip technology is kind of dated at this point. While I’m not saying this isn’t a move in the right direction, it should have been implemented 5 years ago. I mean, it’s been around that long. I will be interested to see when mobile payments start to become more mainstream.