Visa Corporate Announces Change to Signature for EMV Merchants

January 17, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

The change from magnetic-stripe cards to Europay / Mastercard / Visa (EMV) standard chip-based cards has been a difficult one for many merchants out there, and not without reason. The changes in infrastructure, the lack of understanding, and several other factors got together to bog down the EMV switchover. For those who did make it, however—and to, as the Voltaire novel put it, “encourager les autres”—there’s a new development afoot: signatures will be optional soon.

Starting in April, the signature requirement for EMV users will no longer be a requirement at all, as long as the merchant in question is using either a contact or contactless chip-enabled operation. Visa has been working on bringing the EMV standard to the United States and beyond since 2011, and so far has seen some noteworthy results. With EMV now a standard in the US for less than two years, fraud has dropped 66 percent at said merchants’ operations, reports note.

Visa’s vice president of consumer products, Dan Sanford, noted “Visa is committed to delivering secure, fast and convenient payments at the point of sale. Our focus is on continually evolving the market towards dynamic authentication methods such as EMV chip, as well as investing in emerging capabilities that leverage advanced analytics and biometrics. We believe making the signature requirement optional for EMV chip-enabled merchants is the responsible next step to enhance security and convenience at the point of sale.”

By removing the signature requirement, Visa has effectively given users one more reason to make the move to EMV: convenience. The procedure from start-to-finish is effectively that much more streamlined than it was previously, and though the change may not seem like a big one, saving a couple seconds is still a couple seconds saved. For the merchant, it’s even better; save a couple seconds a transaction over what may be a couple hundred transactions a day or more and you’re talking about some serious time savings and potentially increased throughput of customers.

It’s a small change, but one that could have a lot of impact. Hopefully in April we’ll start hearing about the long-term impact of this move, but for now, it’s enough to say that the potential is certainly there.