Did Consumers Even Notice the Death of the Signature?

EXCLUSIVE —The age of signing receipts for in-store purchases met its end last week, and while this means the end of tedious paperwork, authentication checks, and backlogs for credit card providers, consumers themselves probably didn’t notice.

This is according to Jason Bohrer, senior vice president and general manager, secure card solutions for CPI Card Group. The shift is likely going to be similar in rollout to EMV, Bohrer said, although likely without the accompanying consumer fuss.

“I don’t know if [the change] is going to be evident to the common consumer, if they’re going to recognize the switch,” Bohrer told Bank Innovation, noting that there were already a growing number of retailers who had stopped requiring signatures at the point-of-sale.

The move, which was finally implemented over this weekend, came as card providers Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover each decided to move away from the signature, something that has served as an increasingly poor form of payment authentication over the years.

Jasma Ghai, vice president of global products innovation at Discover, told Bank Innovation in an emailed statement:

Discover has already implemented a number of digital authentication technologies such as tokenization, multi-factor authentication, and biometrics that are more secure than requiring a signature and provide a more seamless payment transaction.

The move to eliminate signatures is one of the first steps in the payments industry’s “continued migration to digital,” Bohrer told Bank Innovation, and will contribute to a “more cashless environment in future years.”

The “momentum” for such an environment is already going, Bohrer said. As a group that helps to design and produce credit and debit cards in the U.S., the end of the signature era has an direct effect on the CPI Group—one that is likely to grow as cashless or contactless cards become the norm.

The company is currently in talks with its financial partners about adding or moving their card portfolio to contactless, Bohrer said, though he could not name specific institutions or companies.

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