MasterCard Is Cutting Your Checkout Counter Time

Payments are getting more and more frictionless these days, as we ditch cash for apps, tap-and-pay, and plastic. MasterCard is pushing things one step further: The credit card giant just announced it hopes to phase out receipt signatures by next spring.

We're closer than you think to that eventuality. In a blog post last week, MasterCard vice president Linda Kirkpatrick stated that already fewer than 20 percent of purchases require you to sign for them. American cardholders want quicker checkout lines and less hassle, according to MasterCard's research, while stores hope faster checkout can increase sales.

The United States is a holdout on the world stage when it comes to signing receipts, as it happens — many countries have already adopted quicker, more secure payment technologies. With a new massive data breach seemingly announced every few months, credit card companies are more invested than ever in keeping their customers' transactions and information safe. While this new direction may give some pause, according to Kirkpatrick, "removing the need to sign for purchases will not have any impact on safety." She cites "chip, tokenization, biometrics, and specialized digital platforms" that will help confirm a shopper's identity.

MasterCard says credit card signatures could be fully on their way out by April 2018. Kirkpatrick's post was not clear whether this would include service-based payments, especially those that include tips, such as personal care providers or restaurants. But vendors may see other benefits too, including decreased costs for safely storing signatures. The future of money just got a little bit more abstract.