Business Unusual

Signing is becoming obsolete, but you will still have a signature

When last did you need to sign your name? Was it an important legal document or only to countersign a card purchase?

While formal legal documents are still typically printed, they will need you to add your signature. Card payments, however, will only use a pin or near field communication (NFC).

When you use a wireless card, you use RFID which still requires you to enter a pin, but with NFC, not only can your phone tell the payment machine, that is your card, the card machine can confirm the transaction, so no is pin needed. The option that Samsung uses replicates the signal that swiping a card produces, so even the oldest card machines should work with it and again, no pin is needed because to access the card you need to either use a pin or more likely your fingerprint or your eyes.

Card payments are a big part of what you might still need your signature for and its days are numbered. The next most likely time you need to sign is for security when entering a building or receiving a package. At the moment you sign a piece of paper, but that means the business needs to capture that at some later point or trust that it was correct. Phone apps are better as you sign on the screen which makes it electronic and if you supplied a copy of your signature they could compare it. But even easier would be to use a photo and have the delivery confirmed with a picture. Alternatively, you could record a voice note for the service, and you can verify your receipt by saying the phrase which would be captured on the delivery person’s phone for confirmation.

Next, entering a building. Many write anything which hardly adds to the security, so a simple camera to capture your arrival and another when you leave would be sufficient. Should you need a bit more protection stating your name would allow it to both be recorded and, if required, can be used with an image search to see if the name matched the photo.

Even more secure would be registering your picture with a fingerprint. This raises privacy issues; more on that later.

Your eyes, voice and fingers can uniquely identify you as can your palm and your face. Good cameras allow us to capture better pictures, but also better fakes. New cameras don’t look at the picture only; they look at the infrared image which only a real living person has. They can also sense depth and spot a flat image

Compared to the security available in the options above; signatures are not very secure at all, but for the longest time it was not only the best option, it was the only option.

When cheques were the norm, your signature had more to do with allowing the bank to show you had written the cheque rather than prevent fraud. There was lots of fraud, and it took a long time to realise someone was pretending to be you and stealing from you.

Copying a credit card is a lot harder than copying a cheque. Adding a pin was far more secure than a signature, and it was instant.

But you can forget a pin and lose a card; the future would just require you to say you want to buy something and you would be the card and the verification.

There is one further layer of identification that is getting easier to apply and gather - DNA. The type and nature of DNA profiled have expanded and this year demonstrated how well it could be used to solve crimes. Autosomal DNA does not just carry a means to identify you; it can create a link with the rest of your family, their parents and their parents going back generations. Police identified and arrested the Golden State Killer earlier this year in this way. Police had DNA from crime scenes but none that matched their records which requires an exact match. Genealogy services offer anyone the ability to have their DNA sequenced and to find out about their ancestors and origins. There may be almost a million samples in the various databases, and some services allow you to upload a sample and see which other samples are a close match.

Police found a relative. By looking at their family, a new suspect was identified. By gathering discarded DNA samples from fluids like saliva, they got an exact match. A crime committed before the internet and before we knew how powerful DNA could be was solved.

Having a DNA sample available may well be the last signature and password we will ever need, but as is often the case, the technology has run ahead of the regulations and ethics that need to be resolved before it can be used with confidence.

If you have a young child, they will not need to sign their name in the future, and thankfully they will also not need passwords either.

Enjoy The Money Show, but miss it sometimes?

Get the best bits emailed to you daily, right after it ends:

Subscribe to our Business Wrap Newsletter


Recommended

by NEWSROOM AI
Read More
A potential solution to poverty

A potential solution to poverty

Here are four related stories that may offer an insight to better address poverty.

The one time searching the internet for your medical diagnosis is a good idea

The one time searching the internet for your medical diagnosis is a good idea

The internet could be the best doctor to determine what is wrong with you and a TV show explains why.

The Greta Thunberg effect

The Greta Thunberg effect

If a 16-year-old can understand climate change, why do so many still fight it?

Watching the 2019 Rugby World Cup from your couch may be better than being there

Watching the 2019 Rugby World Cup from your couch may be better than being there

Television has been a game-changer for watching live sport

WeWork hopes to fix old office problems with big data, disruption and community

WeWork hopes to fix old office problems with big data, disruption and community

The We Company is due to list later this year but there are big problems with its valuation and business model.

The Silicon Age - How one element has powered most of human innovation

The Silicon Age - How one element has powered most of human innovation

Wherever you look you will see silicon at work. This is a tribute to the 14th element on the periodic table and its many uses.

Popular articles
DA to decide if Herman Mashaba will serve his notice period or get cut loose

DA to decide if Herman Mashaba will serve his notice period or get cut loose

It's reported that some senior members of the Democratic Alliance want Mashaba's membership terminated with immediate effect.

'Audit found Mango and Comair planes were signed off by unqualified persons'

'Audit found Mango and Comair planes were signed off by unqualified persons'

The South African Civil Aviation Authority explains some of the findings of its maintenance audit at SAA Technical.

'I want to ensure my money delivers change to as many people as possible'

'I want to ensure my money delivers change to as many people as possible'

Black Business Council president Sandile Zungu on his attitude toward money (hopes and fears, successes and failures, etc.).

'Mbete faced difficult questions. She has done a lot in terms of responding'

'Mbete faced difficult questions. She has done a lot in terms of responding'

Xolani Xala (SA Business Abroad) defends his defence of ANC stalwart Baleka Mbete’s "car crash" interview on Al Jazeera.

[WATCH] Oprah roasts student about his cracked phone, then buys him a new one

[WATCH] Oprah roasts student about his cracked phone, then buys him a new one

Khabazela shares tweets and Facebook posts that have gone viral.

Why Vestact is buying Discovery (JSE), Long4Life (JSE) and Booking.com

Why Vestact is buying Discovery (JSE), Long4Life (JSE) and Booking.com

Portfolio Manager Byron Lotter shares his stock picks of the week with Bruce Whitfield on The Money Show.

[WATCH] Toddler upset that mom didn't give him a goodbye kiss, is so adorable

[WATCH] Toddler upset that mom didn't give him a goodbye kiss, is so adorable

Khabazela shares tweets and Facebook posts that have gone viral.

'Today I say to Mmusi Maimane, you are the leader and I am the toilet cleaner'

'Today I say to Mmusi Maimane, you are the leader and I am the toilet cleaner'

New Democratic Alliance Federal Council chair Helen Zille outlines her plans for her new role.

[WATCH] Boy explaining what he heard when parents had sex goes viral

[WATCH] Boy explaining what he heard when parents had sex goes viral

Khabazela shares tweets and Facebook posts that have gone viral.