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Department of Justice widens antitrust probe to include Mastercard

Mastercard has announced that the US Justice Department (DOJ) is conducting an antitrust investigation of its US debit program and competition with other payment networks.

DOJ widens probe to include Mastercard

The company says it had received a civil investigative demand, the civil equivalent of a subpoena, from the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.

The filing did not specify the government’s concern beyond saying it had to do with its US debit program and competition with rivals.

It’s a sign that the DOJ probe, previously centred on Visa, has widened. In late January 2023, the DOJ requested documents and information from the credit-card company.

The European Commission also told Visa it had opened a preliminary investigation into its incentive agreements with clients. In 2019, Visa settled with the European Union over an antitrust probe into card fees.

In 2010, the Justice Department held an investigation on the credit-card payments industry and eventually settled with Visa and Mastercard when both companies agreed to allow merchants to offer consumers incentives to use a low-cost credit card.

“Mastercard is cooperating with the DOJ in connection with the CID,” the company said in the filing.

“It’s not surprising that the DOJ would request information from other players in the debit space,” Mastercard chief financial officer Sachin Mehra also said.

“It’s hard to speculate about the potential outcome, but these types of investigations do take a number of years.”

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