Mastercard said it is under investigation by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Antitrust Division regarding the company’s debit card program.
In March, the DOJ delivered a civil investigative demand (CID) to Mastercard concerning its debit program and competition with other payment networks and technologies, the company said in a first-quarter filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday.
The DOJ is probing whether Mastercard violated Sections 1 or 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, the company said. The Sherman Act gives federal agencies the power, under certain circumstances, to curb commercial activity that is viewed as anticompetitive.
“Mastercard is cooperating with the DOJ in connection with the CID,” the company said.
Mastercard has been under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) since June 2020 regarding the company’s compliance with the debit routing provisions of the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act, the company said.
The Durbin Amendment mandates bank-issued debit cards give merchants a choice about which network to use when sending payments. The networks, whether Mastercard, Visa, or a smaller company, typically charge fees for handling the payments.
The FTC issued an administrative complaint to Mastercard in December and accepted a consent agreement, in which Mastercard agreed to provide primary account numbers to merchants so they could route tokenized debit transactions to alternative networks, the company said.
Mastercard is waiting for the FTC’s final decision on the consent agreement, the company said, which does not include any monetary penalty.
Mastercard, which has more than 3 billion cards in circulation, earned net income of $2.4 billion in the first quarter of 2023 and net revenues of $5.7 billion.
“We are actively managing the business to capitalize on the significant digital payment and services opportunities ahead and stand ready to navigate through any headwinds,” said Michael Miebach, chief executive officer of Mastercard, in an earnings release Thursday.
Visa has been under a similar investigation by the DOJ since March 2021 regarding its debit card and possible anticompetitive practices with other payments.