Vision loss and credit cards don’t mix well. It’s hard to tell one card from the other, especially now as card designs have moved to flattened surfaces. Not that card’s with embossed numbers and names were all that accessible either. And although the focus here is just on card design, the accessibility of machines used to process payments is another issue in need of solutions. It is a pleasure to report a meaningful advance on the part of Mastercard in these efforts, and we hope they will hold the baton and run with it all the way to complete inclusion.
It was a while ago, in pre-pandemic times, that we heard there was an accessible credit card in the works. The very idea made us smile, its time had finally come. Who was creating this card and what would it be like? The details of the project did not leak, it was very top secret, so we waited for the news to break.
The first glimpse came late last year when Mastercard unveiled Touch Card, a new accessible design standard implementing a system of notches cut into the side of the card. A square notch identifies the credit card, a semicircle notch on debit cards and a triangular notch is for prepaid cards. The positioning of these cut-outs gives the customers the ability to use the right card the right way, by touch. Mastercard hopes the new inclusive designs will help the world’s 2.2 billion visually impaired people more easily identify and manage their cards.
In March, Mastercard began marketing Touch Card with a TV ad, embedded below. It seemed to signal the Touch Card was now available to consumers. But this commercial was actually meant to get people, and card issuers (which are banks), excited about the opportunity to obtain this new product.
Naturally, we wanted to get our hands on the notched cards and try them out as soon as possible, but that was easier said than done. When we could not find the Touch Card online or at a bank, we reached out to Jill Davison in Global Communications at Mastercard. She said, “Thank you for your interest in the Mastercard Touch Card. We are currently working with several Mastercard issuers around the world to bring Touch Card to market. It is our hope that this becomes a global standard universally applied to all cards and not just a feature added upon request. Once we launch with Mastercard partners, the standard will be made available to all banks and networks, and it will be their choice whether to adopt this new card standard.” She also suggested, interested consumers contact their banks and request Touch Card in advance of its issuance.
The bottom line is, Touch Card is coming soon, stay tuned.