June 2022

Serving the LGBTQIA+ Community: How the Credit Card Industry Is Evolving

For decades, the LGBTQIA+ community has faced numerous challenges in banking and finance. From frustrating microaggressions and outright discrimination to navigating the designedly lengthy process of obtaining legal recognition of chosen names and pronouns, the barriers to inclusion and equal opportunity have gone unchecked for far too long.

As much as we celebrate innovations in technology and finance at Deserve, we believe that innovations are not worth pursuing if they can’t be accessed and leveraged by everyone.

Over the past few years, we have been inspired to see the credit card industry and broader finance world taking considerable steps toward better serving the LGBTQIA+ community. This Pride Month, we are excited to shine a light on this critical (and long overdue) progress that will serve as invaluable blueprints for equity and empowerment across industries.

Mastercard’s “True Name” Initiative

Despite increased, widespread visibility and education about LGBTQ issues, many transgender and non-binary people struggle to have their true names and pronouns honored on individual and institutional levels. This has significant repercussions with any identifying documents, where there are persistent barriers to obtaining identification that reflects one’s true identity. In mid-2021, a study from UCLA’s Williams Institute revealed that up to 476,000 transgender adults, or around 34% of the transgender population, didn’t have an ID that matched their identity. In addition to making it significantly more difficult to open a bank account or apply for a job, such barriers have negative implications on mental health. Research published in 2020 by Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health found that transgender adults with gender-affirming IDs were over 30% less likely to be clinically classified as psychologically distressed, and over 20% less likely to suffer from periods of suicidal ideation.

Understanding the social, practical, and psychological toll that incorrect IDs can have on trans and non-binary individuals, Mastercard launched its “True Name” initiative in 2019, a program that allows banks to offer credit and debit cards that accurately reflect cardholders’ identities. The significance of the True Name project can be understood and appreciated on multiple fronts. First, through the promise of unconditional acceptance and equal treatment, it aims to remove the discomfort from the banking experience felt by so many in the LGBTQIA+ community. As more banks partner with Mastercard on the initiative or use it as inspiration to take similar action, we hope to see a considerable reduction in instances of discrimination against trans and non-binary individuals in the credit card space.

Moreover, with government institutions still behind the curve, Mastercard’s actions could light a proverbial fire under the seats of legislators and regulatory bodies, leading to a much-needed recalibration of how these issues are handled.

Since its inception, the True Name initiative has gained a fair amount of momentum. In October, 2021, Citi became the first major bank to integrate the program into its offerings, extending the option to millions of customers, and providing an easy way to utilize the service through its website.

Daylight X Visa

If you want to see a prime example of how focused innovation can directly serve the needs of the LGBTQIA+ community, look no further than Daylight, a fintech startup that has partnered with Visa to bring its transformative vision and uniquely tailored credit card products to the broader market.

In the spirit of Mastercard’s True Name initiative, Daylight released a prepaid debit card in December 2020 that features each customer’s true name. But what makes Daylight truly stand out is that rather than gradually integrating queer-friendly features into a system that has famously excluded LGBTQIA+ customers, the company’s purpose is to exist as its own, first-of-its-kind digital banking platform. Inclusivity is not an additional feature but the absolute bottom line. 

As a gay man with extensive experience in finance and the startup world, Daylight’s founder and CEO Rob Curtis wanted to create a platform that would not only give LGBTQIA+ folks equal treatment and opportunity but also would provide them with education and incentives to approach their finances with confidence.

Beyond recognizing trans and non-binary customers by their true names, Daylight also offers a wide array of creative and ambitious services that hope to transform how its users think about and engage with financial products. This includes educational resources and financial coaching, an interactive community where customers can share their individual experiences and milestones, and opportunities to receive rewards on purchases that directly support LGBTQIA+ businesses and charitable organizations. By banking on the Daylight platform, users can earn up to 10% cashback on their spending at queer bars and thousands of other allied businesses. Daylight consumers can even view analytics that reveal which companies are supporting–and which are harming–the queer community.

Inclusion as the New Normal

For far too long, the credit card industry and broader financial sector have designed and marketed their products to the exclusion of minority communities. And while there is plenty of work to be done, Mastercard’s “True Name” initiative and the continued innovation of platforms like Daylight are overwhelmingly positive developments for the financial empowerment of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Deserve is powering the future of credit cards, and we envision a future in which discrimination, in any capacity whatsoever, has no place to exist. At the end of the day, LGBTQIA+ advancement is about so much more than equity and inclusion; it is the advancement of basic human dignity, respect, and compassion.