Payments Views

American Express

Let’s Just Skip Sig and Go to Chip and PIN

Last week I was in Victoria, British Columbia doing one of our Glenbrook Payments Assessments. In anticipation of my trip to the North American Land of Chip andPIN, I had both a Visa and an Amex card reissued in the chip format. Neither of my issuers supported PINs on my credit cards, so I was informed by both of the issuers that I’d be in chip and signature mode.

When in Canada, I used my cards many times and my main impression was that this chip and signature stuff was stupid, and it would have been so much easier to have been assigned and using a PIN!

Had I had a PIN, I would have been handed a terminal (which had my card inserted by the clerk and an amount keyed in), accepted the payment, keyed-in a PIN and handed the terminal back to the clerk — done! As it was, we instead had to go through this awkward protocol of me receiving the terminal, handing it back then receiving another slip of paper and pen, finding a free surface on which to sign it, then handing it back to the clerk. To me, that felt like twice the work of the PIN transaction!


I’m sure there’s some system preparation required, but I think that for the most part, U.S. issuers are going with chip and signature in the near term to help customers make the transition to chip cards feel as familiar as possible.

Now, as we say in our boot camps, those of us in payments need to exercise caution when extrapolating our perceptions to the wider population as a whole, but my advice to issuers is: let’s make the full leap now — chip and PIN — and get it done with. I think consumers are quickly going to tire of this fumbling around with pens and signatures stuff!

This post was written by Glenbrook’s Jay DeWitt.