Retailers say ‘Less signing, more PINs’ for credit card purchases

Fewer merchants are asking for your signature, but many love the idea of PIN numbers

Sabrina Karl
Personal Finance Writer
Data whiz and visual storyteller

U.S. consumers are increasingly finding they can use their credit cards without needing to provide a John Hancock. And according to a new survey of U.S. retailers, no-signature retailers may be more common than signature retailers within the next year.

The National Retail Federation’s latest payments study found that 44 percent of retailer respondents said they will drop the signature requirement for credit cards by year’s end, if they haven’t already. And by the time 2019 concludes, that share will reach almost 6 in 10 retailers (57 percent).

Another 10 percent still plan to eliminate signatures, but don’t expect to do so until 2020 or later. The remaining 35 percent said they have no specific plans to stop requesting signatures.

See related: Mastercard, Discover, AmEx and Visa ditching signatures 

The survey also asked retailers how they feel about PIN authentication for credit cards, highlighting an ongoing sore point between retailers and card networks. Ninety-five percent of the retailers said they believe PIN authentication should be enabled for credit cards, with 92 percent reporting they would implement such a system if banks made the security measure available.

NRF’s data comes from “State of Retail Payments: Outlook for 2019,” the latest installment of a biennial survey it conducts with Forrester. 

Although the number of respondents is statistically insufficient for the results to be representative of the entire retail industry, the responding retailers represent an outsize share of the industry, with 65 percent of them having annual sales of at least $1 billion. NRF released the results Nov. 14.


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Updated: 12-15-2018