Embrace mobile or it will run over you

January 17, 2018 brianradio2016

Mobile is making itself felt in retail in obvious and not-so-obvious ways. But Visa and Kroger are dealing with mobile in very different ways, with Visa — perhaps a decade too late, but late is better than never — conceding that the authentication of mobile payments makes signing for a purchase no longer necessary. Meanwhile, Kroger is pushing mobile checkout but still wants shoppers to wait in line to pay.

Let’s start with Visa. In a very significant — and long overdue — move, Visa last week (Jan. 12) joined fellow card brands MasterCard, American Express and Discover in signaling an end to the payment signature, as of April in Visa’s case. Technically, the brands merely said that signatures are no longer required, but given that retailers have begged for the end of signature for years, as a practical matter, it will be gone in the U.S. before the summer arrives.

A lot of factors are behind this decision (EMV, in-store video cameras tracking purchases, the lack of meaningful signature analysis at the POS, etc.), but what pushed signature over the cliff was mobile.

We noted the lunacy back in May 2016, when EMV started kicking in. Until then, shoppers could make mobile payments authenticated with a finger scan (and today, slowly, facial recognition) and be on their way. But as we noted back then, the EMV change forced shoppers to be called back to the POS to sign for their purchase.