Visa CEO Defends Right to Buy Guns Via Mobile Payments, Investors Shocked

August 13, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

The ongoing ideological duel reaches even Visa.

“We shouldn’t tell people they can’t purchase a 32-ounce soda. We shouldn’t tell people they can’t buy reproductive drugs.” Those were the words Visa CEO Alfred Kelly delivered on a recent CNBC appearance, and they’re also the words that incensed a large portion of Visa’s shareholders. In fact, according to new word sent our way from SumOfUs.org, it was enough to get those shareholders together to generate a resolution demanding Visa address the issue of mobile payments use in gun crime.

The shareholder resolution calls for Visa’s board of directors to “…issue a report, at reasonable expense and excluding proprietary information, on the risks to Visa from mounting public scrutiny of the role played by credit card issuers and payment networks in enabling purchases of firearms, ammunition, and accessories used to commit crimes, including mass shootings, and the steps Visa is taking to mitigate those risks.”

The resolution got a little extra weight from a New York Times report in which the Pulse nightclub shooter had been found to have used six credit cards—three of which were Visa-issued—to purchase roughly $26,000 in arms and accompanying ammunition. Corporate campaigner at SumOfUs.org, Katie Reilly, pointed out that one simple change—simply reporting excessive or erratic purchases of guns and ammunition—may have been sufficient to save lives.

Of course, what Reilly doesn’t mention is what is considered “excessive” or “erratic”, or who is expected to make such decisions. This leads us back in turn to Kelly’s remarks, where he points out that Visa doesn’t tell people what they can and cannot purchase in terms of items that are legal to buy, so there’s little reason to start now.

It’s universally agreed that no one except mass shooters wants mass shootings to occur. The issue is how to do it. Some want to attack the supply side and keep guns and ammunition out of as many hands as possible. Others not incorrectly point out the sheer number of guns and ammunition items already out in public hands which will likely never do harm and instead call for attacks on the demand side, focusing on improving mental health instead.

Since both sides have a goal in common, all that remains is to determine the right path to get there.