A group of at least four financial institutions in Slovenia has introduced a smart card reader that blind consumers can use to shop and bank online more securely, according to MasterCard Europe, which is involved in the effort. The banks will issue blind customers Xi-Sign 4400 readers from France-based Xiring. The readers, designed for contact cards, will have keypads with larger-than-normal keys, "larger graphic display[s] and an integrated sound interface transmitting all messages displayed on the reader through earphones," MasterCard says in a statement issue Wednesday. "The reader works with EMV-compliant cards from other card companies [and] organizations as well, as long as the cards are personalized for" MasterCard's "Chip Authentication Program," a spokesperson for MasterCard Europe tells CardLine Global, referring to a security specification for handheld readers that Visa Inc. also has adopted. Slovenia-based card company The Activa System and the Slovenian Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired are backing the effort. Customers can use the readers for electronic-banking services offered by Activa-affiliated banks that include Banka Koper, Postna banka Slovenije, Dezelna banka Slovenije and Volksbank-Ljudska banka, the statement says.