Visa boards the signature-free EMV bandwagon at last

Pascal Le Segretain  Getty Images

Noting that credit card fraud has declined 66 percent in the United States in the less than two years since EMV chips were launched, Visa cites increased convenience as its reason for the change, along with use of "advanced analytics and biometrics" that are increasing transaction security.

Visa today announced that it will join MasterCard, American Express, and Discover in eliminating the need for signatures when making any EMV chip or contactless payment, starting this April. Roughly a quarter of transactions on its payments network now require a signature.

Though the chip was still relatively uncommon a couple years ago, most merchants have upgraded their systems to support the chip. Visa is the last of the major U.S. payments networks to ease the signature requirement.

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Visa's move follows similar announcements made by MasterCard, American Express, and Discover past year. That supplanted magnetic stripes, which permanently store codes that are easily copied by hackers.

The EMV chip, more commonly referred to among merchants and consumers as simply "the chip", is the small square-shaped, gold-colored contact point on the end of your credit and debit cards. Less than two years since EMV chip launched in the US, fraud declined 66 percent at EMV chip-enabled merchants.

Since 2011, Visa has deployed more than 460 million EMV chip cards and EMV chip-enabled readers at more than 2.5 million locations. Visa and Walmart settled the case in November.

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