Mastercard to Offer "True Name" Card

Jill Jaracz
September 24, 2019
True Name Mastercard

During Pride Month, a month-long celebration and rights awareness for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, and others (LGBTQAI+) community, Mastercard announced a new initiative that it hoped would spark pride in its cardholders: It plans to allow cardholders to choose the name that appears on their credit cards.

This "True Name" initiative was designed for those members of the community who do not identify with their legal name, whether it's because they were misgendered at birth, they're non-binary and do not conform to the name that was given to them, or a number of other reasons the name on their legal identification does not match who they truly are and how they present themselves to the world.

In a press release, Mastercard noted that in these cases, using a credit card could actually bring up a lot of issues and be a source of discouragement, particularly if a merchant takes a good look at the name on the card and scrutinizes the cardholder for not appearing like what they would expect to see.

This experience isn't out of the ordinary for those who have gender incongruent identification. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey published by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), 32 percent of respondents experienced verbal harassment, denials of service, assault and more simply because the name or gender on their identification didn't match the gender in how they presented themselves. This adds to what can be an immense amount of anxiety over being constantly reminded of a name that they no longer want to use or be known as.

Changing a name and gender on credit cards and identification isn't an easy process, and it can be an expensive one, as the NCTE found. Costs involved with changing all forms of legal IDs are one of the main stumbling blocks in achieving a true name.

CNBC reported that Mastercard looked into the issue and saw nothing within its network's rules stipulating that people must use their legal name on their credit cards, which helped them launch this initiative.

CNBC noted that as part of the initiative, Mastercard plans to have all types of its cards be open to people's true names, including credit, debit and prepaid cards.

The company is currently working with its partners to bring the initiative to fruition. In looking at credit card applications at major issuers like Chase, Capital One, Citi and Wells Fargo, they already don't ask an applicant's gender, which means Mastercard is one step closer to its goal. However, they do ask for a Social Security number. The name attached to that number would have to match the name on the application. If the applicant hasn't legally changed their name, that's where the difficulty in providing a true name card lies.

Still, Mastercard is working out the details to create a card application that is more sensitive and has fewer questions that allow for a true name to be used on an account. The card network told CNBC it plans to have the cards on the market by early next year.

"We are allies of the LGBTQIA+ community, which means if we see a need or if this community is not being served in the most inclusive way, we want to be a force for change to help address and alleviate unnecessary pain points," said Randall Tucker, Mastercard's chief diversity and inclusion officer, in a statement. "This translates not only for our Mastercard employee community but for our cardholders and the communities in which we operate more broadly. Our vision is that every card should be for everyone."

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