AmEx Joins Mastercard, Discover in Dumping Signature Requirement

(Bloomberg) -- American Express Co. joined Mastercard Inc. and Discover Financial Services in eliminating a signature requirement for purchases made on its network, a move merchants had been pushing for.

AmEx will no longer require customers to sign at checkout for credit- or debit-card purchases beginning in April 2018, the New York-based payments firm said Monday in a statement. The adoption of chip technology and mobile payment options -- which are harder to dupe -- lessened the need for signatures as a fraud-fighting tool, the firm said in the statement.

Retailers have complained that the fees they’re charged for debit-card payments have climbed following the transition to so-called EMV technology. Merchants have been pushing for card networks to eliminate signature requirements because fees for transactions routed over signature debit networks are often more than double that of comparable networks requiring a personal identification number, or PIN.

“Having to sign a receipt can be a hassle for customers and is not necessary to prevent fraud at the point of sale,” Mike Cook, senior vice president and assistant treasurer at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., said in the statement. Eliminating signatures “will promote a more seamless shopping and checkout experience for our customers,” he said.

Mastercard and Discover dropped the requirement this year, leaving Visa Inc. as the only large U.S. payments network that hasn’t rescinded its policy.

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