Visa shares fall after report says DOJ is probing possible anticompetitive debit card practices

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  • The DOJ is investigating whether Visa has unlawfully curbed merchants’ capacity to route debit-card transactions over less-expensive networks, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • The report added pressure on Visa shares.

Visa shares dropped sharply Friday after a report said the Justice Department has opened an investigation into its debit card business and possible anticompetitive practices.

The department’s antitrust division has started to collect information on whether Visa, the largest card network in the United States, has curbed merchants’ capacity to route debit-card transactions over less-expensive networks, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified sources.

The sources said DOJ investigators’ questions are centered on online debit-card transactions but have also included inquiries about in-store issues.

Visa, which had seen its shares under pressure earlier on Friday, abruptly fell from around $218.50 per share to about $209 per share after the Journal’s report. Its losses put the stock down about 5% on the session.

The Justice Department and Visa declined to comment.

The probe focuses on the role of network fees, charges that payments processors bill to merchants in exchange for access to the processor’s vast network, according to the report.

Investigators will seek to determine if Visa’s fee policies unlawfully give it unfair market dominance, the Journal said.

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