But they are also sensitive -- at least for now -- to public pressure campaigns, as evidenced by decisions made by credit card giants Mastercard and Visa: Both have decided to halt the implementation of a plan that was intended to track firearm sales and help reduce gun violence, a move that activists had been pushing for, Bloomberg News reported late last week.
Discover Financial Services and American Express Co. are also pausing the work along with Visa and Mastercard after a series of bills in state legislatures targeted the International Organization for Standardization’s new merchant category code. The MCC was created to be used when processing transactions for gun and ammunition stores, which activists hoped would track firearm sales and help curb gun violence, the report stated.
“There are bills advancing in several states related to the use of this new code,” said a spokesman for Mastercard in a statement Thursday. If passed, the proposals would create an “inconsistency” in how merchants and others apply the code, he added.
“It’s for that reason that we have decided to pause work on the implementation of the firearms-specific MCC," the spokesman said.
The spokesperson also stated that the company is halting the implementation of the firearms-specific MCC due to the "significant confusion and legal uncertainty" created by legislative proposals related to the use of the code, Bloomberg News noted further.
Previously, Visa and Mastercard had expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the new system in curbing gun violence, as it would not provide sufficient details to identify specific types of firearms purchased, such as semi-automatic rifles versus safety equipment. Additionally, the proposed merchant category code was criticized by Second Amendment advocates and politicians who viewed it as a violation of constitutional rights and privacy, said the outlet.
Previously, all major payment networks had agreed to implement a new merchant category code that would apply to all purchases made at gun and ammunition stores. However, purchases of firearms at other types of retailers would not be included, said the report -- likely because the goal is to put gun stores out of business, not fellow woke corporations (which would then stop selling guns altogether).
“MCCs are one data point that would not provide any insight on specific purchases or resolve larger issues,” the Mastercard spokesman said, according to Bloomberg. “We are committed to working with policymakers and elected officials to contribute to constructive solutions that address the gun violence issue, while respecting important constitutional rights and protections for lawful activities.”
Discover has also announced that it will be removing the merchant category code (MCC) as well, stating that it is doing so "to continue alignment and interoperability with the industry."
Visa and Mastercard's earlier decision to implement the code had led to swift backlash from politicians. In September, 24 state attorneys general had written to then-CEO of Visa, Al Kelly, and CEO of Mastercard, Michael Miebach, urging them to "take immediate action to comport with our consumer protection laws and respect the constitutional rights of all Americans," according to the outlet.
Several Republican politicians have introduced bills in various states, including Mississippi and Florida, aimed at restricting the use of the new code by prohibiting banks and payment processors from using it for firearms transactions. In West Virginia, a bill passed the House earlier this year that would "prevent the use of payment card processing systems for surveillance of Second Amendment activity and discriminatory conduct."
Once again, it is the Republican Party trying to protect fundamental constitutional rights while Democrat-leaning corporations are trying to limit them.