Encryption & Key Management , Multi-factor & Risk-based Authentication , Next-Generation Technologies & Secure Development

Chip and No Signature: What's Behind the Move?

Mastercard's Linda Kirkpatrick on the Decision to Ditch Signatures and Forgo a PIN Mandate
Chip and No Signature: What's Behind the Move?
Linda Kirkpatrick, executive vice president, U.S. market development, Mastercard

Although all the major credit card brands have dropped the requirement for obtaining signatures to verify point-of-sale transactions made with EMV chip cards, they're not pushing strongly for using PINs instead, leaving that authentication decision to card issuers, says Linda Kirkpatrick of Mastercard.

"Our rubric for fraud and the EMV liability shift does provide protection to the entity that has the highest form of authentication, and PIN is part of that rubric," says Kirkpatrick, Mastercard's executive vice president of U.S. market development. "On the credit side, it's an issuer-by-issuer decision as to whether they embed PIN on their [card] portfolios. Each bank has their own level of risk tolerance and strategy as to how to implement safety and security measures."

In many other nations that have made the shift to EMV chip cards, the use of PINs for credit card transactions has been mandated.

Why Drop Signatures?

In an interview with Information Security Media Group, Kirkpatrick says the card brands made the decision to drop signatures for verifying EMV card transactions because this form of authentication has outlived its usefulness.

"Fifty years ago, when the card networks were originally formed, signature was really the only form of cardholder verification method that existed in the marketplace," she says. "The use of signature as a cardholder verification method - when we had other methods like chip, PIN, biometrics and other platforms like tokenization that really equip the safety and security that our merchants were working with - seemed ... irrelevant."

The decision to ditch the signature requirement as of April has been broadly welcomed by the merchant community, particularly those where speed of customer throughput is a priority, Kirkpatrick claims. "What we're hearing is really encouraging pickup with merchants who have an imperative to improve the speed at the point of sale," she says. "Speaking with the Merchant Advisory Group, the largest merchant group in the US, they predict that 75 percent of their members will leverage no signature optionality before the end of 2018."

In the interview (see audio link below photo), Kirkpatrick also discusses:

  • What measures are being used in place of signatures for card verification;
  • Merchant categories that remain laggards in EMV adoption;
  • The case for PIN in the U.S.

Kirkpatrick is executive vice president, U.S. market development, at Mastercard. She is responsible for U.S. business development, merchant and acquirer relationships and pricing.

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