Accepting PIN numbers on your POS system? You need to now!
You will not be routinely jotting your name on payment slips and checkout terminals much longer. MasterCard, Discover, American Express and now Visa plan to ditch the signature requirement at merchants in April.
Here is a quick recap of the statements from the card networks:
- MasterCard, which announced in October that it would make signatures optional in April, says more than 80 percent of the in-store transactions (also known as point-of-sale purchases) it processes now don’t need a signature.
- Discover said on Dec. 6, that it, too, would abandon the signature requirement. “With the rise in new payment security capabilities, like chip technology and tokenization, the time is right to remove this step from the checkout experience,” Discover’s Jasma Ghai, vice president of global products innovation, says.
- American Express announced Dec. 11 that it will drop the signature requirement globally in April.
- Visa said in a blog post Jan. 12 that it will make “the signature requirement optional for all EMV contact or contactless chip-enabled merchants in North America, beginning April 2018.”
What all of this means: The decades-old ritual for cardholders – scribbling something resembling your name on payment slips – is ending. Merchants will still have the option of asking for a signature, but the requirement will be history as of April.
Signatures are no longer necessary to fight fraud
“The payments landscape has evolved to the point where we can now eliminate this pain point for our merchants,” said Jaromir Divilek, executive vice president of global network business for American Express. “Our fraud capabilities have advanced so that signatures are no longer necessary to fight fraud.”
Jeanette Volpi, head of North America communications at Visa, said that more than three-fourths of Visa’s face-to-face transactions in North America don’t require signatures.
Jack Jania, senior vice president of strategic alliances at Gemalto, “This is a good move for both consumers and merchants, as it will speed up the in-store purchase experience.”
‘A costly yet feeble means of securing transactions’
MasterCard was the first to announce the no-signature move, and it was applauded by the retail industry and even Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer.
Discover and American Express announced in December and Visa in January that they, too, will eliminate requiring signatures at point-of-sale terminals.
Is safety in jeopardy?
Industry insiders don’t think the rollout of no-signature policies will endanger cardholders’ data.
Philip Andreae, a consultant in the digital payments industry, questions whether the signature requirement for in-store card purchases really improves the security of transactions.
Why? Merchants typically don’t check a cardholder’s signature – either on a paper receipt or an electronic screen – against the signature on the back of a card, he says, and many cardholders fail to sign their cards anyway.
Gemalto’s Jania believes not requiring signatures will have no effect on card security, since existing chip technology and other high-tech tools for verification of a cardholder’s identity aren’t going away.
“WHAT CONSUMERS WILL FIND REASSURING IS THAT REMOVING THE NEED TO SIGN FOR PURCHASES WILL NOT HAVE ANY IMPACT ON SAFETY.”
Not a ‘radical’ idea
MasterCard describes dropping the signature as “another step in the digital evolution of payments and payment security.”
Discover says the change is part of its efforts to continually improve the payment experience by speeding up the time spent at checkout all while maintaining a high level of security for both customers and merchants.
At MasterCard, Kirkpatrick stresses that ensuring the security of credit and debit card transactions continues to be a top priority, but not requiring signatures will accelerate the checkout process.
Ken Givens with U.S. Merchant Payment Solutions is ready to assist clients and businesses needing to add PIN Acceptance to their POS, and offers Free Equipment in many cases. “We know that changes in the marketplace are sometimes a burden to merchants, but we are here to help get them updated with little hassle and cost.”
Contact U.S. Merchant Payment Solutions for upgrades to your system or questions about eliminating practically all fees to accept cards in your business.