As of April 1st, the big four credit card companies, Visa, American Express, MasterCard and Discover no longer require customers in North America to sign their receipts. According to the New York Post, only in some shops and restaurants customers may still need to sign their receipts. Visa will still require a signature when a customer swipes their card but with most retail stores having chip-enabled readers and most credit cards in Canada having chip technology, even for Visa Card users having to sign a receipt after a purchase will soon be a thing of the past.
There were two main reasons why customers had to sign sales receipts. The first reason was for identity verification. Customers were supposed to sign the back of their credit cards, and during a transaction, store clerks are supposed to check the receipt’s signature against the credit card’s signature to catch would be credit card thief. However, comparing the card signature to the receipt signature is rarely ever done. The second reason for signing the receipt was that if there was, a disputed purchase the credit card company would demand the store’s credit card receipt with the customer’s signature to either prove the customer really did purchase the item or see that the card was stolen and therefore the customer was not responsible for the purchase
However, in today's digital world the outdated nature of signatures protecting against stolen credit cards was already addressed in 2012 when already the burden on retailers to hold on to receipts was decreased. Starting in 2012 MasterCard did not require a signature for purchases under $50 and other credit card companies soon followed.
Most business owners and shoppers believe that not having to sign a receipt will make shopping faster and the payment process more streamlined. However, some businesses may still opt to require signatures either because they are slow to change or because they want to give the customer an option to include a tip.
With advancements in security and artificial intelligence, the industry is moving, albeit slowly, to remove outdated and unnecessary aspects of credit card transactions like signing a receipt. Therefore, it is important for business owners to embrace these changes especially if these changes reduce waste and improve security.