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How Citi made it easy for transgender customers to change the name on their credit cards

Citi—a winner of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards—launched a big campaign to showcase its initiative to make it easy for transgender people to change the name on their credit card.

How Citi made it easy for transgender customers to change the name on their credit cards
[Photo: AlexandrBognat/iStock]
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Changing the name on your credit card sounds like it should be as simple as filling out a form. Yet most cards require customers to use only their legal name, so changing what appears on the card means completing the laborious process of a legal name change. A National Center for Transgender Equality survey showed that one-third of transgender people reported harassment or denial of service after showing ID with a name or gender marker that didn’t match their appearance. The same survey revealed that 68% of respondents don’t have a single ID that reflects their chosen name.

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So in 2019, Mastercard unveiled the idea of the True Name card, which wouldn’t require a legal name change, aiming to help transgender and nonbinary cardholders in particular. But it was in 2020 that the idea really went into high gear. Citi partnered with Mastercard in October 2020 to become the first major bank to launch the True Name feature across the U.S., giving massive scale to the initiative and providing customers the ability to use their self-identified chosen first name on eligible cards.

[Image: Citi]
To mark Trans Awareness Week last November, the company launched a new campaign that focused on advertising in major cities like New York (on Citi Bike stations) and Los Angeles (at the Grove shopping mall); it’s the winner of the advertising category in Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards. The campaign featured transgender and nonbinary talent, both behind the scenes and on camera.

“At Citi, we are passionate about helping to ensure our customers feel recognized, accepted, and empowered to be their true selves,” Carla Hassan, Citi’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “We’re incredibly proud to launch the True Name feature through our relationship with Mastercard, because we strongly believe that our customers should have the opportunity to be called by the name that represents who they really are.”

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Citi built out a back-end capability that can hold both a customer’s chosen first name and legal name on the account for a secure customer experience, and created a digital process for customers to request a name change. The company also designed and provided empathy training to its more than 5,000 customer service agents to make sure customers using the new platform were recognized and respected. More than 3,300 customers have requested to update their first names on Citi credit cards since the company’s True Name launch.

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity.

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