Starting today in the U.S., three of the four major credit companies will no longer require a signature for card purchases, with the other company falling in line later this month.
American Express, Discover, and Mastercard have all confirmed they will no longer require signatures as of today, The Verge reports. Visa will join them by the end of April.
However, you may not see the change right away: stores will ultimately make the final decision on whether or not a signature will be needed.
As The New York Times reports, Target will get rid of the requirement this month, and Walmart already considers signatures “worthless.” Walmart has already stopped recording them on “most transactions” and will soon be getting rid of the requirement completely. While those two stores look make a quick change, many other merchants may not.
American Express will get rid of the requirement worldwide, while Discover and Mastercard are doing so in the U.S. and a few other North American countries. Visa “is making it optional only in North America for companies that offer chip systems.”
Convenience, Not Security
Despite the companies getting rid of signatures, The Verge points out that “none of them are taking the extra step of replacing it with the far more secure chip-and-PIN authentication that Europe uses.”
While the U.S. has added more secure EMV chips to its cards in the past few years, signatures aren’t getting completely replaced by PINs: you’ll be able to insert or swipe your card without having to punch in a number for each card. (Most of the world now requires a PIN with a purchase.)
This will make for quicker transactions, but if signatures aren’t being replaced by anything else — if it’s just the elimination of an admittedly nearly “worthless” step, as opposed to adding a new, better step — there’s no increase in fraud protection.