M aking a routine purchase shouldn’t be a traumatizing event. But it can become one for transgender and non-binary people if the name on their card product doesn’t match their true identity. Unfortunately, it’s an all-too-common occurrence. In this Q&A, Cheryl Guerin, EVP, Global Brand Strategy & Innovation at Mastercard®, explains how Mastercard and its partners are working together to make the payment process inclusive and safe for everyone.
What inspired Mastercard to launch its True Name® feature?
When we learned about the challenge many in the LGBTQIA+ community have during the checkout experience in stores, we knew we had to do something. According to research by the National Center for Transgender Equality, nearly one-third of individuals who have used an ID with a name or gender that did not match their presentation reported negative experiences, including being harassed, attacked, or denied services. In June 2019, Mastercard made a commitment to address this challenge by introducing True Name, a card feature designed to enable people to display their preferred name on their card without the requirement of a legal name change.
How does True Name work?
Mastercard does not have a rule that specifies the cardholder name must be the cardholder’s legal name. The name on the card is at the discretion of the card issuers. Working together with our issuing bank partners, we can help them expand True Name and enable more Mastercard cardholders to feel proud and secure with the card they carry. To implement True Name, issuers simply need to add a question to the application process that asks consumers what preferred name they’d like to appear on the card. Additionally, a review of customer service is recommended to ensure the experience is fully inclusive, giving customers the ability to be serviced by their self-identified chosen name across customer service channels including phone, online, and mobile access points.
What kind of impact does True Name have for the people who use it?
Being able to use a name that reflects who you truly identify with isn’t just important; it is essential. However, many individuals choose to forego the cost, complexity and anxiety associated with official name and gender changes. Since introducing the True Name feature, we’ve received incredible feedback from our partners and members within the transgender and non-binary communities about how the capability has eased a major pain point in their lives. We are thrilled that we have been able to extend the reach and impact of the True Name initiative globally and provide consumers with the opportunity to use their preferred name on their Mastercard products.
How has the True Name initiative grown in recent years? Where do you see it headed?
When we started this journey, we had the end goal of achieving ubiquity for True Name across all card offerings, and we remain committed to that goal. Since the launch of True Name, Mastercard partners such as Citi (US), BMO (US and Canada), FIS, Marqeta, One Finance, Republic Bank & Trust Company, Superbia, and T-Mobile MONEY have helped implement the True Name feature and empower cardholders to use their chosen first name on their card product. Last year, we took a major step forward in expanding True Name globally across 30 markets with TSYS, challenger bank Bunq, and our first U.K. issuer, Monzo. And we aren’t done yet. There is still much work to be done in the U.S. and around the world. Progress will come at a different pace in different places. We’ll continue to engage at all levels to be locally relevant, while understanding that what matters is to keep advancing equity.
Mastercard’s True Name feature is a first of its kind. Should other card providers consider adopting something similar?
Mastercard believes that acceptance and inclusivity are fundamental consumer rights. We are allies of the LGBTQIA+ community, which means if this community is not being served in the most inclusive way, we want to be a force for change, to bring our partners with us, and help address and alleviate unnecessary pain points. True Name has no incremental compliance requirements above typical credit or debit card programs, making implementation with Mastercard simple. We are committed to continuing to call on the industry to support the True Name initiative and working with our partners to make them aware of this need and ensure consumers worldwide can leverage their preferred name on their Mastercard cards, because that’s who they truly are.
What does it mean for you personally to see the impact True Name has out in the world?
True Name was designed to enable people to embrace their true selves with their true name. What is more important than that? I am proud to work for a company that is not only dedicated to standing against inequity, but to also being an agent for change. Mastercard celebrates LGBTQIA+ Pride every day. We recognize the progress that has been made in support of the transgender and non-binary community, as well as the outstanding barriers that still need to be addressed to enable individuals to embrace their true selves. I look forward to advancing this commitment and further extending the reach and impact of the True Name initiative.