Discover aims to nix the need for signatures as a means of verifying a cardholder’s identity. The credit card giant says that it intends to do away with the signature requirement in April of 2018.
In a recent press release, Discover stated that it has “has already implemented a number of digital authentication technologies such as biometrics, tokenization and multi-factor authentication, all of which are more secure than requiring a signature and provide a more seamless payment transaction.”
When discussing its reasons for moving beyond signatures, Discover mentioned several recent security measures, including chip cards and the ability for users to freeze their cards via the internet when it was misplaced.
The Discover action will more than likely be a welcome one for many of Discover’s customers, as it’s becoming increasingly rare for consumers to actually sign real letters when signing at check-outs. Additionally, retailers don’t really check signatures anyway for the most part, so getting rid of signatures isn’t really removing any strong security measures already in place.
The prevalence of online retail has made the concept of signatures obsolete. Americans spend millions of dollars each year on online purchases and none of those sales require a signature. So signing your name for a credit card purchase is becoming less and less required anyway, especially in the age of eBay and Amazon.
Discover did allude to the fact that brick-and-mortar retailers interested in moving beyond signatures as a security method may need to update their POS systems, and given how slow some retailers can be to overhaul their systems, it may be some time before signatures are truly a distant memory. However, Discover’s decision will likely motivate many businesses to update.
Discover isn’t the only credit card company moving away from the use of signatures and pin numbers. Earlier this year, MasterCard announced that it was considering switching to cards that use biometric fingerprint scanners, similar to the ones found on flagship smartphones such as Apple’s TouchID. The technology has been in the works for some time, but it’s unclear when we will see it hit the mainstream.
It’s no secret that technology is never perfect, but fingerprint scanners are largely considered more secure than pins, which can be cracked or stolen.