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Improving awareness of the alternative for people who are unable to use a PIN

An in-depth study of chip and signature cards, the alternative means of card payment for people who are unable to use a PIN, has demonstrated a widespread knowledge gap over how they work.

Fulfilling an objective set out in the Payments Council’s National Payments Plan, the study reached out to banks and building societies, retailers, stakeholder groups and customers who may benefit from having a chip and signature card. The study included an omnibus survey of the UK population, focus groups with people who may benefit from the card, mystery shopper activity, and interviews with relevant charities and groups.

The Payments Council is working with banks and retailer groups to raise awareness among staff in order to pave the way for chip and signature cards to be readily available to those that need them, and easy to use in everyday life.

Chip and signature cards

Chip and signature cards can be provided to anyone who has difficulty entering their PIN – this may be due to dexterity issues, visual impairment, memory problems or mobility issues that make it hard to use a PIN terminal.

  • John Vale, a blind user of chip and signature, discusses how the card benefits him:

Click here to download video

For more consumer information on chip and signature cards, whether you might benefit from one and how to apply for a card, visit – the Payment Council’s consumer education website, or email 

Resources for retailers

The Payments Council study of chip and signature cardholders found that more than a quarter (26 per cent) who took part in a mystery shopping exercise described themselves as feeling embarrassed or anxious when using their chip and signature card, often due to hold ups caused by the retailer not being aware of how the card worked.

The Payments Council has developed new free training materials for retailers to help improve the experience of disabled customers who use a chip and signature card. All retailers are obliged to accept chip and signature cards as a ‘reasonable adjustment’ to meet the terms of the 2010 Equality Act. 

A video and one-page factsheet are available, which are designed to address some of the misplaced concerns around fraud liability when accepting these types of payments. Retailers benefit from the same high level of fraud liability protection as with any PIN-verified transaction, as long as the necessary security checks of the card and signature are carried out.

  • One-page retailer factsheet

  • How to accept a non-PIN card – a guide for retailers

A press release announcing the efforts to raise awareness amongst retailers of how to safely accept a chip and signature card was issued on 18 July 2013.

Working with partners

UK charities RNIB and Alzheimer’s Society are supporting the campaign to help make sure that people who may benefit from a chip and signature card are aware that the option is available to them.

Hugh Huddy, RNIB's Campaigns Officer, said:

"Paying for things when you're out and about can be a challenge if you have sight loss. The option of using chip and signature can make life a lot easier for some blind and partially sighted people. RNIB would encourage retailers to train their staff and offer this reasonable adjustment to their customers."

Andrew Chidgey, Director of External Affairs at Alzheimer's Society, said:

“Today there are a number of PIN numbers, passwords and security questions we have to remember. While it is important that appropriate security measures are put in place, these same measures can make the simple act of getting money out of an account, or paying for shopping, very difficult for people with dementia. Alzheimer's Society agrees that it is important that people are made aware of alternative approaches that can help make banking and payments easier.”