In a move that could potentially save business owners some valuable time, the four major credit card issuers in the United States–Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover–will no longer require merchants to collect customer signatures on EMV credit card transactions.
The move, which goes into effect Sunday, April 15th, has been a long-time coming and was made possible by the introduction and rapid adoption of the EMV (aka “chip”) card over the past few years. Before the development of chip card technology, signatures were used to prevent fraudulent transactions and challenge disputes when they arose (since a merchant could produce a signed receipt to prove a transaction had taken place). But because EMV requires cards to be present at the time of purchase and provides a higher overall level of security than traditional swipe cards, it’s much more difficult for people to commit fraud or for customers to deny they made a purchase, rendering signatures obsolete.
Believe in incredibly accessible business?
Get the Gravity newsletter for FAQs, tools, and camaraderie.
In fact, one could argue (and many have) that the signature was never very much help at all. If you’ve ever scrawled an illegible scribble on a receipt or dealt with an electronic signature pad that turns even the best penmanship into chicken scratch (or, if you’re like me, and have written “see ID” on the back of your credit cards and are genuinely surprised when a cashier asks to see your ID), you’ve probably questioned just how secure the process is to begin with. Turns out, many credit card companies wondered the same thing, which is why they decided to do away with the signature rule once and for all.
The change only applies to EMV transactions, so traditional swipe transactions will still require a John Hancock. It is also optional, so if you love cursive or are in the habit of analyzing other people’s handwriting, businesses can still ask customers to sign on the line.
If you decide to forego your signature policy, you might find that your checkout process becomes more efficient since you no longer have to spend precious seconds waiting for people to sign. Keep in mind, though, you will need to make sure that your refund policy is clearly printed on your receipts if it’s not already. This will provide additional security for your business in the event of future customer disputes.
If you have questions about how this change will affect your business, please contact Gravity support by calling 1-866-701-4700 or visiting https://gravitypayments.com/support
By Brooke Carey, content editor