Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

The economics of interchange fees and their regulation : an overview

Contents:

Author Info

  • David S. Evans
  • Richard Schmalensee

Abstract

This essay surveys the economic literature on interchange fees and the debate over whether interchange should be regulated and, if so, how. We consider, first, the operation of unitary payment systems, like American Express, in the context of the recent economic literature on two-sided markets, in which businesses cater to two interdependent groups of customers. The main focus is on the determination of price structure. We then discuss the basic economics of multi-party payment systems and the role of interchange in the operation of such systems under some standard, though unrealistic, simplifying assumptions. The key point of this discussion is that the interchange fee is not an ordinary price; its most direct effect is on price structure, not price level. We then examine the implications for privately determined interchange fees of some of the relevant market imperfections that have been discussed in the economic literature. While some studies suggest that privately determined interchange fees are inefficiently high, others point to fees being inefficiently low. Moreover, there is a consensus among economists that, as a matter of theory, it is not possible to arrive, except by happenstance, at the socially optimal interchange fee through any regulatory system that considers only costs. This distinguishes the market imperfections at issue here for multi-party systems from the more familiar area of public utility regulation, where setting price equal to marginal cost is theoretically ideal. Next, we consider the issues facing policy makers. Since there is so much uncertainty about the relation between privately and socially optimal interchange fees, the outcome of a policy debate can depend critically on who bears the burden of proof under whatever set of institutions and laws the deliberation takes place. There is no apparent basis in today's economics - at a theoretical or empirical level - for concluding that it is generally possible to improve social welfare by

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.kansascityfed.org/publicat/pscp/2005/Evans-Schmalensee.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in its journal Proceedings – Payments System Research Conferences.

Volume (Year): (2005)
Issue (Month): May ()
Pages: 73-120

as in new window
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedkpc:y:2005:i:may:p:73-120

Contact details of provider:
Postal: 1 Memorial Drive, Kansas City, MO 64198-0001
Phone: (816) 881-2254
Web page: http://www.kansascityfed.org/
More information through EDIRC

Order Information:
Email:

Related research

Keywords: Debit cards ; Credit cards;

Other versions of this item:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. GABSZEWICZ, Jean & WAUTHY, Xavier, 2004. "Two-sided markets and price competition with multi-homing," CORE Discussion Papers 2004030, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  2. Bergman, Mats, 2005. "Two-sided network effects, bank interchange fees, and the allocation of fixed costs," Research Papers in Economics 2005:1, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  3. Mark Armstrong & Simon Cowan & John Vickers, 1994. "Regulatory Reform: Economic Analysis and British Experience," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262510790, December.
  4. Sujit Chakravorti & Roberto Roson, 2004. "Platform competition in two-sided markets: the case of payment networks," Working Paper Series WP-04-09, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  5. Wright, Julian, 2003. "One-Sided Logic in Two-Sided Markets," Working paper 382, Regulation2point0.
  6. Jean-Charles Rochet & Jean Triole, 2002. "Platform Competition in Two Sided Markets," FMG Discussion Papers dp409, Financial Markets Group.
  7. Daniel A. Ackerberg & Gautam Gowrisankaran, 2006. "Quantifying Equilibrium Network Externalities in the ACH Banking Industry," NBER Working Papers 12488, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Bolt Wilko & Tieman Alexander F., 2006. "Social Welfare and Cost Recovery in Two-Sided Markets," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-15, March.
  9. Stuart E. Weiner & Julian Wright, 2005. "Interchange fees in various countries : developments and determinants," Proceedings – Payments System Research Conferences, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue May, pages 5-49.
  10. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, December.
  11. Schmalensee, Richard, 2002. "Payment Systems and Interchange Fees," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 103-22, June.
  12. Robert M. Hunt, 2003. "An introduction to the economics of payment card networks," Working Papers 03-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  13. Littlechild Stephen, 2003. "Reflections on Incentive Regulation," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(4), pages 1-27, December.
  14. Wright, Julian, 2003. "Pricing in debit and credit card schemes," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 305-309, September.
  15. Sujit Chakravorti & William R. Emmons, 2001. "Who pays for credit cards?," Occasional Paper; Emerging Payments EPS-2001-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  16. Paul De Grauwe & Laura Rinaldi, 2002. "A Model of the Card Payment System and the Interchange Fee," CESifo Working Paper Series 796, CESifo Group Munich.
  17. Graeme Guthrie & Julian Wright, 2003. "Competing Payment Schemes," Departmental Working Papers wp0311, National University of Singapore, Department of Economics.
  18. Wright, Julian, 2003. "Optimal card payment systems," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 587-612, August.
  19. Wilko Bolt & Alexander F. Tieman, 2004. "Skewed Pricing in Two-Sided Markets: An IO approach," DNB Working Papers 013, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  20. Gans Joshua S & King Stephen P., 2003. "Approaches to Regulating Interchange Fees in Payment Systems," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(2), pages 1-21, June.
  21. Marc Rysman, 2006. "An Empirical Analysis of Payment Card Usage," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2006-002, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  22. Mark Armstrong, 2006. "Competition in two‐sided markets," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(3), pages 668-691, 09.
  23. Fumiko Hayashi & Rick Sullivan & Stuart E. Weiner, 2006. "A guide to the ATM and debit card industry - 2006 update," Monograph, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, number 2006agttaadci2, December.
  24. Chakravorti, Sujit & To, Ted, 2007. "A theory of credit cards," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 583-595, June.
  25. Jean-Charles Rochet & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Cooperation Among Competitors: Some Economics Of Payment Card Associations," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(4), pages 549-570, Winter.
  26. Chakravorti Sujit, 2003. "Theory of Credit Card Networks: A Survey of the Literature," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(2), pages 1-19, June.
  27. Jeffry M. Netter & William L. Megginson, 2001. "From State to Market: A Survey of Empirical Studies on Privatization," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(2), pages 321-389, June.
  28. van Raalte, Chris & Webers, Harry, 1998. "Spatial competition with intermediated matching," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 477-488, March.
  29. Fabio M. Manenti & Ernesto Somma, 2002. "Plastic Clashes: Competition among Closed and Open Systems in the Credit Card Industry," Industrial Organization 0211012, EconWPA.
  30. Julian Wright, 2004. "The Determinants of Optimal Interchange Fees in Payment Systems," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(1), pages 1-26, 03.
  31. Schwartz Marius & Vincent Daniel R., 2006. "The No Surcharge Rule and Card User Rebates: Vertical Control by a Payment Network," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-31, March.
  32. Mark Armstrong & Julian Wright, 2007. "Two-sided Markets, Competitive Bottlenecks and Exclusive Contracts," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 353-380, August.
  33. Joshua S. Gans & Stephen P. King, 2003. "A Theoretical Analysis of Credit Card Reform in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 79(247), pages 462-472, December.
  34. Schiff, Aaron, 2003. "Open and closed systems of two-sided networks," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 425-442, December.
  35. repec:rne:rneart:v:5:y:2006:i:1:p:71-102 is not listed on IDEAS
  36. Rochet Jean-Charles & Tirole Jean, 2003. "An Economic Analysis of the Determination of Interchange Fees in Payment Card Systems," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(2), pages 1-11, June.
  37. Evans David S., 2003. "Some Empirical Aspects of Multi-sided Platform Industries," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(3), pages 1-19, September.
  38. Hayashi Fumiko, 2006. "A Puzzle of Card Payment Pricing: Why Are Merchants Still Accepting Card Payments?," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-31, March.
  39. Bruno Jullien, 2004. "Two-Sided Markets and Electronic Intermediaries," CESifo Working Paper Series 1345, CESifo Group Munich.
  40. Rochet Jean-Charles, 2003. "The Theory of Interchange Fees: A Synthesis of Recent Contributions," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(2), pages 1-28, June.
  41. Gans Joshua S & King Stephen P, 2003. "The Neutrality of Interchange Fees in Payment Systems," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-18, January.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedkpc:y:2005:i:may:p:73-120. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lu Dayrit).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.