No More Signing on the Dotted Line

October 19, 2017 | By Linda Kirkpatrick

For many years cardholders were required to sign their name when they purchased something by credit or debit card. But think about the purchases you’ve made over the past week or month. How many of them required you to sign on the dotted line? In my case, I made three quick stops on the way into work this morning and didn’t scribble my name for any of those purchases.


Did you know that more than 80 percent of Mastercard in store transactions in North America today do not require a cardholder signature at checkout? That number could now reach 100 percent after April 2018, when we will no longer require signatures at checkout for any credit or debit purchases in Canada and the U.S.

Eliminating the need for signature is another step in the digital evolution of payments and payment security. At first glance, this might sound like a radical proclamation, especially to people who have had credit and debit cards for decades. However, the change matches all of our expectations for fast and convenient shopping experiences. Our consumer research found that a majority of people believe it would be easier to pay and that checkout lines would move faster if they didn’t need to sign when making a purchase.

It is important to know that the levels of security for credit and debit cards remains a priority. What consumers will find reassuring is that removing the need to sign for purchases will not have any impact on safety. Our secure network and state-of-the art systems combined with new digital payment methods that include chip, tokenization, biometrics and specialized digital platforms use newer and more secure methods to prove identity.

Beyond what you see and experience at checkout, there is behind the scenes technology at work every second of every day to protect every transaction. Mastercard has a long history of innovation and investments in all layers of security. Recently we introduced an Early Detection System to help financial institutions proactively and quickly pre-empt serious attacks.  This new service provides issuers with a unique advanced alert for cards and accounts at a heightened risk of fraudulent use based on their exposure in security incidents or data breaches.

While security remains paramount, we know that convenience is also a large part of what consumers want when they are shopping and paying. Removing the need for a signature is a change our merchant partners support. The move will help merchants speed customers through checkout, provide more consistent experiences for every customer with every purchase and should decrease costs associated with safely storing signatures. 

According to our research, most consumers are ready for this evolution. A large majority are not worried about retiring the “signature required” clause and still feel safe and secure without signing on the dotted line. Look for these changes to start speeding you through in store checkout in April 2018.

Linda Kirkpatrick, President, US Issuers, Mastercard