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Why is a duopoly like Visa/Mastercard allowed to make acquisitions in its own space?

It's not a duopoly? In the US, AMEX and Discover aren't that difficult to use, and a fair amount of retailers accept in-house credit accounts and international creditors like JCB and UnionPay. Payment via debit networks is still very common, and low-tech forms of payment such as cash and checks are still acceptable in many use cases.

Amex and Discover are different as those are closed-network.

I think it's really hard to argue Visa/MC is not a duopoly. Unfortunately anti-trust enforcement in the US has been more political than anything.

I would say this is an example where a duopoly is useful for consumers. The duopoly allows consumers the ability to use a credit card pretty much anywhere they want in the US; This is pretty convenient if you use a credit card responsively. It is also a better solution than the old days where you would have store cards or a store account. (I am not saying the duopoly is great because these companies are a massive headache for businesses, and increase the cost of things)

>I would say this is an example where a duopoly is useful for consumers. The duopoly allows consumers the ability to use a credit card pretty much anywhere they want in the US

Going by that reasoning a monopoly would be even better, as the card would be accepted everywhere.

The consumer pays by lack of innovation and high scheme fees.

closed network?

You only get discover & Amex cards from those companies whereas Visa & MasterCard are networks that other people can “buy into”, ie your bank card (or credit card offered through a bank).

IMO not super relevant to topic of competition, there’s 4 networks, the fact that two of them are structured differently doesn’t really have impacts on sellers & customers (other than that the two open networks are significant larger, visa & MasterCard)

This isn't quite true, I have a BVAA credit card that uses the AMEX payment network and I used to have an FIA Card Services credit card that used the AMEX payment network (the old Fidelity credit card)

You’re right, it’s weird, American Express has literature where they talk about being a closed loop network and apply that definition. Maybe it’s more appropriate to just say that visa and MasterCard don’t directly offer credit cards.

There are starting to be a lot of Amex network cards are offered through other banks, with everything from Wells Fargo to Credit One (the first is one of the largest in the country, and the second is a basically a scam).

Discover also does this, although there are less available. Here is an example through Comenity in partnership with True Value: https://d.comenity.net/truevaluediscover/pub/Home.xhtml They used to do something similar for a card with Wal-Mart.

Visa is 54% of all card purchases, Mastercard is 23%, and together they're 100% of debit purchases.

Waaaaaay past any reasonable threshold for market power scrutiny.

But antitrust is currently dormant in the USA.

Discover and Amex debit cards exist.

Not sure what relevance that might have. It's antitrust law, not "monopoly law", and there's no legal requirement that no competitors exist in order for the law to be involved. Antitrust law is about market power, not some imaginary narrow definition of "monopoly".

I was simply refuting the claim that 100% of debit purchases are Visa + MC.

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