Visa, the world’s largest payments processor, said on Saturday it would implement a new merchant category code for US gun sellers, which will identify transactions at firearms stores.
A slew of mass shootings in the US in 2022 has again reignited calls for stricter gun control and now credit card companies are moving to help track the purchase of weapons.
Tragedies this year include those at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois; a mass shooting that left 10 Black people dead in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York on 14 May; and — the deadliest mass shooting of the year — the massacre of 19 schoolchildren and two fourth-grade teachers in Uvalde, Texas on 24 May.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approved the creation of the merchant code on Friday following pressure from gun-control activists who say it will help track suspicious weapons purchases.
“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,” Visa said in a statement.
On Friday, Mastercard said that following ISO’s approval it too will focus on how the new cose will be implemented by merchants and their banks to continue the support of lawful purchases on its network while protecting the privacy and decisions of individual cardholders.
American Express also said that when ISO develops a new code it will work on implementation with third-party processors and partners.
The code will show where an individual spends money but not what items were purchased.
Several top US pension funds including those for government workers in New York City and California had submitted shareholder resolutions asking payment companies to weigh in on the issue.
Some gun-rights activists have worried the new code could lead to unauthorised surveillance.
President Joe Biden has called for Congress to pass an assault weapons ban as well as $37bn for crime prevention programs, with $13bn to hire and train an additional 100,000 police officers over the next five years.
With reporting by Reuters