By David Z. Morris
January 14, 2018

Last Friday, Visa joined American Express, Discover, and Mastercard in announcing it will phase out signature requirements for most credit card transactions. The change would apply to so-called “chip cards” with embedded EMV authentication technology.

According to Silicon Beat, Visa’s phase-out should begin in April. Older credit cards without the chips, or transactions at terminals without chip readers, will still require signatures.

The transition to EMV technology in the U.S. began in earnest in 2015, when merchants without EMV readers had to accept fraud liability for transactions. The rollout was rocky, particularly from a consumer perspective, triggering widespread complaints that chip transactions were much slower than the old swipe method. Issuers have since worked to speed up the process.

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Because the transition wasn’t government-mandated, there are still many merchants who haven’t made the switch. In 2016, nearly a year after the liability shift, merchant adoption was at about 33%. But the benefits have also become clear, with EMV-enabled merchants showing a huge drop in credit card fraud. According to Visa, merchants with chip readers saw a 66% drop in fraud between June 2015 and June 2017.

Most other countries that use EMV technology have already abandoned signatures, replacing them with PIN numbers — so get ready to have something else to memorize.

Correction: This article previously overstated the adoption rate of chip-readers by merchants. We regret the error.

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