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Mastercard teams up with RNIB

Mastercard and RNIB validate the Touch Card and reimagine what payment cards could feel like.

The Mastercard logo.


Who: Mastercard

What: Worked with card issuers and manufacturers to introduce a system of notches that would make payment cards more accessible

How: Sent card prototypes to RNIB to put them into consumers’ hands for invaluable analysis and feedback

Result: Together they developed a new global accessible card standard for the entire payments industry

RNIB’s research identified limitations with cards

In 2016, RNIB identified a growing challenge with payment cards: Card issuers were opting for unembossed faces, making it particularly difficult for blind and partially sighted individuals to distinguish their cards from one another. RNIB worked with issuers to introduce a single notch on the side of the payment card to identify it and help users orient it in a payment terminal using touch alone.

In 2020, Mastercard began to explore the same pain point and embarked on a journey to improve on the existing notch by defining a system of notches – allowing consumers to differentiate between credit, debit and prepaid cards.

Mastercard looked to RNIB for its leadership on accessibility and inclusion, proven expertise, and relationships with the low sighted and blind community for critical consumer feedback and concept validation. This innovative partnership allowed them to act as one influential change agent, uniting as advocates for an overlooked population that both lacked and deserved greater security, ease and inclusion when it came to making payments.

“It’s critical that the needs of blind and partially sighted people are embedded in all products and services. We’re delighted to be working with Mastercard to ensure that cards are accessible.” says Robin Spinks, Senior Manager Inclusive Design and Innovation, RNIB.

Exploring ways to improve card accessibility using tactile features

The existing notch was a step in the right direction as it helped consumers with vision challenges to properly orient the card when paying. But the breakthrough lay in the realization that consumers still couldn’t differentiate among multiple kinds of card products people carry in their wallets – credit, debit, prepaid. Mastercard saw this as an opportunity to use consumer insights to uncover ways to make its business stronger and more inclusive.

Mastercard debit, credit and prepaid tactile cards.

The company began to create a system of notches in simple shapes – half circle, square and triangle – that would allow consumers to feel the difference. Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard’s Chief Marketing & Communications Officer and President, Healthcare and his global Brand Strategy & Innovation team realized it could solve this complex problem with a universal solution at little cost to issuers and manufacturers.

Rajamannar says:

“The best and most sustainable solutions tend to be simple, but not simplistic – and that is exactly what ouch Card brings to consumers and the industry.”

The Mastercard team sent early card prototypes to RNIB for feedback and consumer testing. RNIB regularly conducts consumer research and is well positioned to put such concepts and prototypes into the hands of those needing a solution.

“The feedback and consumer insights we received from RNIB were invaluable. It’s the power of strong, trusted partnerships that allow innovation to create lasting societal impact.”

A complex process incorporating feedback from multiple partners

Mastercard relied on collaboration to overcome challenges to establish this new system of notches. The company consulted with RNIB to gather and analyze consumer insights and data.

Creating the card structure and shape while keeping card manufacturing costs down and the integrity of the card structure intact was a complex challenge.

Looking forward across other platforms

RNIB is proud to collaborate with Mastercard and find new ways to help our community lead more independent lives. As an organization dedicated to those with vision challenges, we salute Mastercard for their creativity and purpose – and we’re not alone in this sentiment. Touch Card was awarded three Cannes Lions awards, Disability: IN, Marketing Innovator of the Year, and 26 finalist awards all focused on innovations for good with the power to change the world for the better

Get in touch

If you’ve got a project that would benefit from our expertise in accessibility get in touch with us directly on 01733 375 370 or contact our Business Services Team below.