Mastercard CEO says it’s not the company’s place to limit gun sales

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Mastercard Inc. Chief Executive Officer Ajay Banga said it’s not his company’s place to put limits on firearm sales. In fact, it doesn’t even have the information it needs to stop such purchases.

“I actually don’t know whether you’re buying a gun or a diaper in a store,” Banga said at an Economic Club of New York event on Tuesday, adding that Mastercard doesn’t receive information on individual items purchased at a retailer. It would be difficult for Mastercard “to turn off the acceptance of payments at a Walmart that sells bullets and diapers. I don’t know how to do it — I actually don’t know how to do it.”

Banga’s company also has been criticized by some investors because it allows its cards to be used for payments on websites run by such extremist groups as League of the South, Proud Boys and Stormfront. Mastercard is recommending investors vote against a shareholder proposal that the company’s board form a committee to monitor such relationships.

Banga said Tuesday he doesn’t believe personal beliefs should dictate how he operates his company’s network. While he personally doesn’t like the proliferation of gun ownership in the U.S., shareholders should lobby to change laws governing those sales rather than going after Mastercard, he said.

“This idea that somehow a few people can decide what the rest of society should be allowed to do, or not, even if it’s currently legal, I find that an interesting conundrum to discuss,” Banga said. “Should I allow cards to be used to buy cigarettes? What about alcohol? What about contraceptive devices? Where would you like the line to be drawn, based on whose interpretation of what’s acceptable and not?”

Bloomberg News
Network rules Ajay Banga Mastercard