Mastercard retiring the signature

Mastercard is retiring the signature for in-store credit or debit card purchases in Canada and the US as of April 2018, the company announced with a post to its website Thursday. More than 80 percent of in-store transactions with a Mastercard are already made without a signature, according to the post, and eliminating the little-used practice makes no difference to security.

While post author Linda Kirkpatrick, Executive Vice President, US Market Development notes that the change may seem radical to those trained by decades of card use to think of the signature as a core part of its security measures, company research indicates that consumers want faster and more convenient checkouts, and believe that eliminating the need to sign for purchases will deliver that result.

“What consumers will find reassuring is that removing the need to sign for purchases will not have any impact on safety,” Kirkpatrick writes. “Our secure network and state-of-the art systems combined with new digital payment methods that include chip, tokenization, biometrics and specialized digital platforms use newer and more secure methods to prove identity.”

Kirkpatrick says measures like Mastercard’s new Early Detection System enhance transaction protection with round-the-clock monitoring, and that Mastercard merchant partners fully support the move away from signatures, which removes the necessity of storing signed transaction records.

Biometrics-enabled smart cards have been making inroads into the payment card industry in some markets. As previously reported, Mastercard has been running trials with fingerprint authentication in South Africa, while there have been a number of announcements in recent months about biometric payment cards from companies including IDEMIA (formerly OT-Morpho), Fingerprint Cards and Precise Biometrics, and NEXT Biometrics and First Biometrics. Zwipe announced the shipment of its first contactless biometric payment cards earlier this month.

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