Discover to enable tracking of purchases at gun retailers from April

By Ross Kerber; Edited by News Gate Team

[1/2] A woman shops for a handgun at Frontier Arms & Supply gun shop in Cheyenne, Wyoming, U.S. March 18, 2020. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
[2/2] AR-15 style rifles are displayed for sale at Firearms Unknown, a gun store in Oceanside, California, U.S., April 12, 2021. REUTERS/Bing Guan/File Photo

Feb 18 (Reuters) – Discover Financial Services (DFS.N), a provider of credit cards, told Reuters it will allow its network to track purchases at gun retailers come April, making it the first among its peers to publicly give a date for moving ahead with the initiative, which is aimed at helping authorities probe gun-related crimes.

Discover’s announcement came after the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which decides on the classification of merchant categories used by payment cards, approved in September the launch of a dedicated code for gun retailers.

Proponents of the move, including gun control activists and Democratic politicians, say it will allow financial institutions to better assist authorities in investigating crimes involving gun violence in the United States.

While the codes will not show specific items purchased, some Republican politicians have spoken out against the move, arguing it could violate the privacy of U.S. citizens lawfully buying guns.

In its next policy and product update to merchants and payment partners in April, Discover said it would integrate the new code.

Discover said in a statement to Reuters that it “remains committed on continuing to secure and facilitate authorized purchases on our network while respecting the privacy of cardholders.”

Following the publication of the article, a Discover spokeswoman stated that the company was following the lead of other payment network firms, who had previously opted to deploy the new code in April. The Discover representative chose not to identify those competitors.

The representative stated, “We were following the industry for consistent adoption.

Representatives for Discover’s major peers — Visa Inc (V.N), Mastercard Inc (MA.N) and American Express Co (AXP.N) — declined to comment to Reuters on what their schedules for introducing the new code are. Last fall, the companies said they would work to implement the code while respecting privacy rights.

A representative for Geneva-based ISO said the new code, dubbed “5723 – Gun and ammunition shops” – will be 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.

Discover handled 2% of the $9.56 trillion purchased on U.S. credit and debit cards in 2022, according to industry researcher Nilson Report. Industry leader Visa had a 61% share, Mastercard 26% and American Express 11%.

Reporting by Ross Kerber; Edited by News Gate Team

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