I can count the number of times I've been asked to show my signature on a credit card on one hand. And by next year, even fewer people will have to. Starting in April 2018, American Express will phase out signature requirements for all credit card purchases.
"Fraud capabilities have advanced so that signatures are no longer necessary to fight fraud," Jaromir Divilek, an executive VP at American Express, told The Verge. The website notes that Mastercard announced a similar decision in October, as did Discover, earlier this month. But "unlike other card companies, American Express is doing away with signatures globally, instead of just in the U.S."
In an era when a growing number of young people have no idea how to write in cursive, using a signature as proof of identity feels especially passé. Historically, credit cards have not been considered valid for use unless a customer has signed the back. In reality, most cashiers these days overlook the "Not valid without an Authorized Signature" warning (if they even look for your scrawl), but before technological advancements made handwriting a thin line of defense, banks used them to ensure shoppers' identity.
In the past, if you went through your bank statement and didn't recognize a purchase, the bank would contact the merchant to make sure the signature on your account matched the receipt. Or, the merchant might compare the signature on your card to the one on the receipt. But these days, there are real incentives to have the technology for credit card purchases.
As MarketWatch reports, "liability for fraudulent transactions will fall on whichever party — the issuer or retailer — has the lesser technology. Issuers will be held liable if fraud involves a card with a magnetic stripe, rather than a chip, and merchants will eat the cost if their payment terminals aren’t chip-enabled."
In the grand scheme of things, that makes signatures pretty obsolete.