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Basically, the credit card networks are bribing customers to become complicit in extorting a sales tax from merchants.

If their processing service is cheaper and better than cash services (Brinks etc), then the 2% cash back is more like paying customers for the aggregate data collection. Visa gets paid to replace cash processing, and pays out for consumers providing shopping data.

It also has the effect of forcing accurate payment of taxes due to an an indisputable record being created of sales:


Or sharing kickbacks to consumers to increase their buying power, which isn't extortion or illegal.

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