January 22, 2018

Beginning in April, Visa will no longer require signatures for contactless payments and EMV chip cards. This means North American users of Samsung Pay, Google Pay (previously Android Pay and Google Wallet), and Apple Pay will be able to complete transactions with a touch of their device to the contactless credit card machine.

The signature requirement was once a common method to ensure a transaction was genuine. Depending on the credit card issuer, a signature was required for a transaction exceeding $25 or $50 to confirm the transaction was authentic. Despite the requirement, some vendors were already skipping signature validation.

Credit card issuers cite better security technology as a reason to abandon the method. EMV chip cards have been required in the United States since 2015, generating unique codes with every transaction for a lower risk of fraud. Contactless payments also use one-time codes for each transaction.

EMV chip technology has become the standard in secure credit card processing. Fraud in the credit card processing industry has declined 66% in the U.S. since EMV chip cards were launched just two years ago. In 2016, while the launch of chip payment processing was underway, Visa reported that fraudulent transactions dropped 18% among merchants who began processing chip-enabled cards and rose 11% among merchants who had not yet adopted chip technology.

Visa isn’t the first credit card issuer to end its signature requirement. Mastercard started the trend in October, followed by Discover in December. American Express has also announced it will end the signature requirement on purchases globally effective next April.

All four issuers will drop signature requirements beginning in April in Canada and the U.S. American Express is eliminating signature requirements globally while Discover will eliminate the method in the Caribbean and Mexico. Visa has only waived the signature requirement for merchants who have upgraded to a chip-enabled credit card machine or contactless payment processing. The signature requirement will be optional as retailers can choose to require a signature.

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