As concerns over the privacy of American gun owners continue to rise, yet another major credit card company is taking a step in the wrong direction.
Visa, one of the nation’s most powerful financial corporations, will now be joining a number of other credit card companies in flagging gun store purchases in order to keep tabs on their customers.
Payment processor Visa Inc. said Saturday that it plans to start separately categorizing sales at gun shops, a major win for gun control advocates who say it will help better track suspicious surges of gun sales that could be a prelude to a mass shooting.Advertisement - story continues below
But the decision by Visa, the world’s largest payment processor, will likely provoke the ire of gun rights advocates and gun lobbyists, who have argued that categorizing gun sales would unfairly flag an industry when most sales do not lead to mass shootings. It joins Mastercard and American Express, which also said they plan to move forward with categorizing gun shop sales.
The change was a serious one.
Visa said it would adopt the International Organization for Standardization’s new merchant code for gun sales, which was announced on Friday. Until Friday, gun store sales were considered “general merchandise.”
“Following ISO’s decision to establish a new merchant category code, Visa will proceed with next steps, while ensuring we protect all legal commerce on the Visa network in accordance with our long-standing rules,” the payment processor said in a statement.
What’s worse: Visa’s influence on the banking industry in general will likely push other institutions to follow suit, including local banks for which Visa handles transactions.