Statement from Ajay Banga
We have all seen the news reports from Charlottesville this week, as we have from too many other cities in the past several months. Regardless of where you live in the world, they offer a stark reminder of the dangers of extremism. The violence, intolerance and hatred that were on display are reprehensible and unacceptable.
The challenges of the growing fractures in our society persist and in some cases are intensifying. But racism, violence and hate speech have no place in our world. They are offensive; they are morally wrong; and they are diametrically opposed to who we are as people and what we stand for as a company.
At this time, it’s important to recognize the inclusiveness that is at the core of our company’s values. That is the culture we’ve worked hard to create and cultivate. We value tolerance, respect, equality and diversity, and we will not deviate from these principles.
We will ensure that our business practices, including the use of our network, remain consistent with these principles. We’ve been made aware of websites accepting our products that could be considered as “hate groups.” We have reviewed these websites and identified a number that we believe make specific threats or incite violence.
Long ago, we established standards that govern the use of our payments network. Chief among these is that we do not and will not permit merchants to engage in unlawful activity on our network.
As a result, we’re working with our acquirers to shut down the use of our cards on sites that make specific threats or incite violence — because this activity can be unlawful — as well as on those who wrongfully suggest that they accept our cards.
We believe that offensive speech will be seen for what it is and that it will lose its force in the free marketplace of ideas. For that reason, our cards may still be accepted at some sites that people find offensive. Our standard is whether a merchant’s activity is lawful, even when we disagree with what they say or do. That supports the ideals of free expression.
Yes, this is an issue that is deeply personal and emotional. But, it’s also an opportunity to show through our words and actions the decency for which we all stand.