Whether you have been a business owner for a year or for decades, you can probably come up with several routines you practice without thinking about it. One of these habits just might be the way you accept customer payments. Have you ever asked yourself why you continue to ask patrons for their signatures when they make an electronic payment transaction using your traditional point of sale or mobile card reader?
On the Surface
Most of us view affixing our name to a piece of paper as a way of verifying that we agree with the terms of a contract. Whether we are closing on a house or buying a burger, it’s a process as old as the written word that affirms that we are who we claim to be, and that we are in agreement with the issue at hand. The problem, however, is clear to anyone who has scribbled an illegible doodle or been the target of identity theft: Customers don’t pay attention to signing carefully, and many merchants don’t even glance at the receipt. Even if you take the time to carefully match the receipt to a signed credit card, this precaution is going by the wayside in the era of online and contactless payments made only with a customer’s mobile phone.
Reasons to Resist Progress
In spite of the less-than-robust security protections that signatures provide, many merchants have opted to continue the practice of requiring them. Perhaps you simply didn’t feel like trying to distinguish between the different credit card providers’ rules on the subject, preferring instead to adhere to the strictest standard. On the other hand, maybe you are not in an industry such as fast food or express retail that often experiences long customer lines. If your business success was not hindered by the few seconds each customer took to sign a receipt, you may simply have decided to leave well enough alone.
Recent Changes Up the Ante
As of April 2018, all of the major credit card companies are not requiring a signature at the time of any chip card purchase. With the adoption of technologies such as tokenization and the EMV chips that replaced the easily replicable magnetic, mandating signatures just seemed redundant. There is no law that requires you as a merchant to change your ways.
However, the handwriting is on the wall. As time passes, customers will be less familiar with the practice of signing receipts and may actually find it to be annoying. While it’s one thing to hold onto many time-honored practices, it is likely that most patrons won’t see this one as something worth keeping. Considering that the current is moving quickly toward online and mobile payment transactions, resisting this inevitable force might prove to be virtually impossible.
For centuries, a hand-written scrawl was the best way to confirm a purchase and affirm identity. Now and in the years to come, biometrics such as fingerprint and facial or retinal identification will most likely turn out to be more accurate and secure. It probably won’t be long until you take these new forms of verification as much for granted as you once did a signature.