The Biggest Farce in Australian Banking

This evening I was on the way home and decided to drop into the shops to pick up some odds and ends to cook for dinner. The only money I had with me was my credit card so I used that to pay – swipe card, enter pin, purchase approved, next customer please…… Well, that’s how it should have gone.  Unfortunately given the current state of the Australian Banking industry this went completely pear shaped when the shop attendant decided “credit card purchase must have signature“.

Before I go on I would like to make you all aware that some credit card do have pin numbers, and some eftpos units actually will accept a pin! If this sounds strange, then go live in NZ for a while – nearly every transaction I made over there was with my NZ credit card with pin.  The only time I had to sign for things was when I used my Australian credit card (and that was mainly cause it’s issued overseas, rather than it being specifically an Australian card).

So why is this a farce? Well other than people believing that credit cards must have a signature, the biggest farce is actually that people still believe that signatures are a security mechanism. Now in my opinion credit card signatures suffer from at least two major flaws:

  1. Just about every kid has to pass Tracing 101 at some point. And, in case you have forgotten how to do tracing, all you need to get is a bit of baking paper, or some other thin/semi-transparent paper, and a pen.  Place the paper over the signature you want to copy and practice tracing the shape – 30 mins later you are a genuine fraudster!
  2. As if it wasn’t bad enough that every man and his dog can copy a signature, very few shop attendants actually bother to inspect them.

So you might ask what’s the point?  There is none – signatures are a farce and the quicker the Australian Banking industry wakes up and smells the roses the better.  What’s worse is that they continue to make stupendous profits at the expense of our financial security.


Closing thought: Oh, and don’t get me started about the new chips that some credit cards have had for over 5 years now – when are we going to see eftpos units that insist on these being used when they are present.  I would feel a lot better if these, along with pins, were mandated across the board!

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