Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

The Economics of Interchange Fees and Their Regulation: An Overview

Contents:

Author Info

  • Evans, David S.
  • Schmalensee, Richard L.

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 a noticeable reduction in privately set interchange fees. Thus, if antitrust or other regulators had to show that such intervention would improve welfare, they could not do so. This, again, is quite unlike public utility regulation or many areas of antitrust including, in particular, ordinary cartels. By the same token, there is no basis in economics for concluding that the privately set interchange fee is just right. Thus, if card associations had to bear the burden of proof - for example, to obtain a comfort or clearance letter from authorities for engaging in presumptively illegal coordinated behavior - it would be difficult for them to demonstrate that they set socially optimal fees. We take a pragmatic approach by suggesting two fact-based inquiries that we believe policymakers should undertake before intervening to affect interchange. First, policymakers should establish that there is a significant market failure that needs to be addressed. Second, policymakers should establish that it is possible to correct a serious market imperfection, assuming one exists, by whatever intervention they are considering (such as cost-based regulation of interchange fee levels) and thereby to increase social welfare significantly after taking into account other distortions that the intervention may create. We illustrate both of these points by examining the recent Australian experience.

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://regulation2point0.org/wp-content/plugins/download-monitor/download.php?id=105
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Regulation2point0 in its series Working paper with number 105.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: Jul 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:reg:wpaper:105

Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://regulation2point0.org/

Related research

Keywords:

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. Jean-Charles Rochet & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Platform Competition in Two-Sided Markets," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(4), pages 990-1029, 06.
  2. Schmalensee, Richard, 2002. "Payment Systems and Interchange Fees," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 103-22, June.
  3. Chakravorti, Sujit & To, Ted, 2007. "A theory of credit cards," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 583-595, June.
  4. Bruno Jullien, 2004. "Two-Sided Markets and Electronic Intermediaries," CESifo Working Paper Series 1345, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. 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.
  6. Graeme Guthrie & Julian Wright, 2003. "Competing Payment Schemes," Departmental Working Papers wp0311, National University of Singapore, Department of Economics.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Wright, Julian, 2003. "One-Sided Logic in Two-Sided Markets," Working paper 382, Regulation2point0.
  10. Gautam Gowrisankaran & Daniel A. Ackerberg, 2003. "Quantifying Equilibrium Network Externalities in the ACH Banking Industry," Working Papers 03-06, NET Institute, revised Sep 2003.
  11. 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.
  12. Wilko Bolt & Alexander F Tieman, 2005. "Skewed Pricing in Two-Sided Markets: An IO approach," Money Macro and Finance (MMF) Research Group Conference 2005 75, Money Macro and Finance Research Group.
  13. Wilko Bolt & Alexander F. Tieman, 2005. "Social Welfare and Cost Recovery in Two-Sided Markets," IMF Working Papers 05/194, International Monetary Fund.
  14. 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.
  15. 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, January.
  16. Weiner Stuart E. & Wright Julian, 2005. "Interchange Fees in Various Countries: Developments and Determinants," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 4(4), pages 1-34, December.
  17. van Raalte, Chris & Webers, Harry, 1998. "Spatial competition with intermediated matching," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 477-488, March.
  18. Wright, Julian, 2003. "Pricing in debit and credit card schemes," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 305-309, September.
  19. Robert M. Hunt, 2003. "An introduction to the economics of payment card networks," Working Papers 03-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  20. Fabio M. Manenti & Ernesto Somma, 2002. "Plastic Clashes: Competition among Closed and Open Systems in the Credit Card Industry," Industrial Organization 0211012, EconWPA.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. Wright, Julian, 2003. "Optimal card payment systems," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 587-612, August.
  24. 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.
  25. Littlechild Stephen, 2003. "Reflections on Incentive Regulation," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(4), pages 1-27, December.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. Mark Armstrong & Julian Wright, 2007. "Two-sided Markets, Competitive Bottlenecks and Exclusive Contracts," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 353-380, August.
  29. Sujit Chakravorti, 2003. "Theory of credit card networks: a survey of the literature," Payment Cards Center Discussion Paper 03-09, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  30. 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).
  31. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, January.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. Schiff, Aaron, 2003. "Open and closed systems of two-sided networks," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 425-442, December.
  36. 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.
  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. 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.
  39. Sujit Chakravorti & William R. Emmons, 2001. "Who pays for credit cards?," Occasional Paper; Emerging Payments EPS-2001-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  40. repec:rne:rneart:v:5:y:2006:i:1:p:71-102 is not listed on IDEAS
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:
  1. Monnet, Cyril & Roberds, William, 2008. "Optimal pricing of payment services," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(8), pages 1428-1440, November.
  2. Kahn, Charles M. & Roberds, William, 2009. "Why pay? An introduction to payments economics," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 1-23, January.
  3. Patricia Guajardo F. & Sergio Rodríguez E., 2008. "Funcionamiento del Mercado Tarjetas de Crédito y Debate sobre Tarifas de Intercambio," Notas de Investigación Journal Economía Chilena (The Chilean Economy), Central Bank of Chile, vol. 11(1), pages 137-144, April.
  4. Weiner Stuart E. & Wright Julian, 2005. "Interchange Fees in Various Countries: Developments and Determinants," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 4(4), pages 1-34, December.
  5. Alexandrova-Kabadjova, Biliana & Negrín, José Luis, 2009. "What drives the network’s growth? An agent-based study of the payment card market," Working Paper Series 1143, European Central Bank.
  6. Robin A. Prager & Mark D. Manuszak & Elizabeth K. Kiser & Ron Borzekowski, 2009. "Interchange fees and payment card networks: economics, industry developments, and policy issues," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2009-23, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Michael L. Katz, 2005. "What do we know about interchange fees and what does it mean for public policy? : commentary on Evans and Schmalensee," Proceedings – Payments System Research Conferences, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue May, pages 121-137.
  8. James McAndrews & Zhu Wang, 2007. "Microfoundations of Two-sided Markets: The Payment Card Example," DNB Working Papers 128, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  9. Oz Shy, 2010. "A short survey of network economics," Working Papers 10-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  10. Wilko Bolt & Alexander F. Tieman, 2005. "Social Welfare and Cost Recovery in Two-Sided Markets," IMF Working Papers 05/194, International Monetary Fund.
  11. Biliana Alexandrova-Kabadjova & Sara Gabriela Castellanos Pascacio & Alma L. García-Almanza, 2012. "The Adoption Process of Payment Cards -An Agent- Based Approach," Working Papers 2012-02, Banco de México.
  12. Cyril Monnet & William Roberds, 2007. "Optimal pricing of payment services when cash is an alternative," Working Papers 07-26, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  13. ?zlem Bedre-Defolie & Emilio Calvano, 2013. "Pricing Payment Cards," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 206-31, August.
  14. Biliana Alexandrova-Kabadjova & Sara G. Castellanos Pascacio & Sara G. Castellanos Pascacio & Alma L. Garcia-Almanza, 2012. "El proceso de adopcion de tarjetas de pago. Un enfoque basado en agentes," Working Papers 1214, BBVA Bank, Economic Research Department.
  15. Boudreau, Kevin, 2006. "The Boundaries of the Platform: Vertical Integration and Economic Incentives in Mobile Computing," Working papers 30609, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  16. Fernandez, Pascual & Matias, Gustavo, 2013. "Regulation, competition and integration in electronic payments markets: the Spanish and European cases," MPRA Paper 53781, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  17. Cyril Monnet & William Roberds, 2006. "Credit and the no-surcharge rule," Working Paper 2006-25, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

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:reg:wpaper:105. 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: (Archive Maintainer).

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.