Gunning Down Credit Cards: Using Plastics for Social Change

by Brian Riley 0

Credit cards

No matter where you sit on the emotional issue of gun control, I’m sure you agree that things have gotten out of hand in schools, social situations, and the workplace.  Interstate laws and electronic purchasing complicate the matter, whether you think owning a gun is a constitutional right or personal choice.  Today’s read in the WSJ outlines some ways the long-established Merchant Category Code can help the situation.

  • The financial companies have explored creating a new credit-card code for firearms dealers, similar to how they code restaurants or department stores, according to people familiar with the matter.

  • Another idea would require merchants to share information about specific firearm products consumers are buying, some of the people said.

This is an old-fashioned solution to a current problem.  Merchant Category Codes (MCC) identify the industry.  Card Issuers have used MCCs as a way to price and scrutinize transactions since the beginning of the business.  It could help today.

  • Such data could allow banks to restrict purchases at certain businesses or monitor them.

  • The talks, which are informal and might not lead to any action, have occurred against the backdrop of the national debate around guns in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., high-school shooting, which left 17 dead.

  • Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R., Idaho) last week sent letters to Citigroup and Bank of America Corp. criticizing moves by the banks to enforce new policies on gun-industry clients or to stop doing business with certain gun makers.

The quote of the week goes to Citi CEO Michael Corbat, at their annual meeting:

  • Citigroup, following the Feb. 14 Parkland shooting, adopted a new code of conduct for gun dealers and manufacturers the bank does business with. The code includes firearms retailers restricting sales for buyers under age 21.

  • CEO Michael Corbat said at that bank’s annual meeting that the policy “is intended to preserve the rights of responsible gun owners like myself while relying on best sales practices to keep firearms out of the wrong hands.”

Overview by Brian Riley, Director, Credit Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group


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