Visa, Mastercard Halt Work On Gun Merchant Codes
Bloomberg, citing sources familiar with the matter, has reported that Visa and Mastercard's scheme to monitor gun and ammunition sales at retailers has been temporarily halted.
Both credit companies said they would halt the development of the new merchant code for gun retailers with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Gun rights advocates have said the new merchant code could be used to track gun and ammo transactions.
A representative for Geneva-based ISO recently said the new code, dubbed "5723 - Gun and ammunition shops" - was available for financial institutions to use by the end of February.
"The decision to use the new merchant category code is eventually left up to the users in the industry," the ISO representative said.
The decision by the credit card companies to adopt the new codes drew instant criticism from politicians. Several months ago, two dozen state attorneys general penned a letter to Visa's then-chief executive officer, Al Kelly, and Mastercard CEO, Michael Miebach, asking them to "take immediate action to comport with our consumer protection laws and respect the constitutional rights of all Americans."
In the last few months, Republican politicians have pushed bills in multiple states, including Florida and Mississippi, aiming to restrict credit card companies and payment processors from using the new merchant codes. At the start of this year, a bill that would "prevent the use of payment card processing systems for surveillance of Second Amendment activity and discriminatory conduct" passed West Virginia's House and was sent to the state's Senate.
Had the credit card companies gone ahead with the draconian tracking system, it would've sparked a massive blowback that could damage their businesses. In other words, they wanted to avoid 'go woke, go broke.'