Visa has announced that starting in April, it will get rid of the requirement for signatures on credit card purchases in North America. Now that Visa is on board, all four of the major credit card companies are removing signature requirements. American Express, Discover, and Mastercard already announced that they’re doing away with signatures as well.
When was the last time the cashier looked for your signature on the back of your credit card? Chances are, it’s been awhile. Signatures have not been as effective in preventing fraud as it once was. One silver lining is that signatures, for a brief period, provided some defense for merchants in the event of a chargeback - assuming the signature looked like it accurately represented the customer. Coupled with an authorization, the signature process guaranteed the merchant would receive their payment. Today however, using an authenticated payment credential, such as NFC (Android Pay, Apple Pay, etc.), is considered sufficient.
Like the other credit card companies, Visa claims that the improved security brought about by the recent addition of EMV chip card processing, along with other payment security improvements, make it so signatures are no longer required. The company is only doing away with signatures for merchants who have switched over to chip readers or completely contactless payments; businesses that have yet to upgrade will still need signatures. Additionally, Visa is only making the signature requirement optional. Retailers can still decide to require it if they choose.
Removing the signature requirement with the use of an EMV-compliant process confirms the legitimacy of mobile payments (payment tokens) being card present.