Visa (V) is being investigated for anticompetitive behavior by the Justice Department, the Wall Street Journal reported. Visa stock fell.
Sources told the Journal that the department’s antitrust division is asking whether Visa has curbed the ability of merchants to route debit card transactions over card networks that are often less expensive.
Online card transactions are the focus of the probe. At the same time, in-store issues are being looked into as well, they added.
Officials are considering whether Visa, the largest U.S. card network, engages in practices that allow it to maintain a dominant share unlawfully, the report said.
Visa declined to comment to the Journal. The Justice Department did not immediately comment.
Shares tumbled 5% to 210.09 on the stock market today., after clearing a 211.69 buy point off a cup-with-handle base on Feb. 23, according to MarketSmith chart analysis. Mastercard (MA) fell 4% and American Express (AXP) lost 1.5%.
The new civil antitrust probe resurfaces the controversy over so-called network fees, which are invisible to consumers and lucrative for card companies, but a weight on merchants, who often pass on the fees in the form of higher prices to customers.
Find Aparna Narayanan on Twitter at @IBD_Aparna.
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