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Merchant Acceptance of Payment Cards: “Must Take” or “Wanna Take”?


  • Bounie David


  • François Abel

    (Telecom ParisTech, CNRS, i3-SES, Department of Economics and Social Sciences (ESS), Paris, France)

  • Van Hove Leo

    (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Department of Applied Economics (APEC), Brussels, Belgium)


In recent years, regulators in various parts of the world have capped interchange fees on debit and credit cards. The justification for the caps rests to a large extent on the argument that these cards have, for certain merchants, become must-take cards rather than “wanna-take cards.” That is, there are merchants who accept payment cards not because they bring net convenience benefits but out of fear of losing profitable business to card-accepting competitors. This paper presents an original approach that allows to quantify, for the first time, the relative importance of the two motivations. We find, for the case of France in 2008, that the must-take phenomenon effectively exists, but that it applies to only 5.8–19.8 percent of the card-accepting merchants and to a mere 3.9–13.5 percent of all retailers.

Suggested Citation

  • Bounie David & François Abel & Van Hove Leo, 2016. "Merchant Acceptance of Payment Cards: “Must Take” or “Wanna Take”?," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 15(3), pages 117-146, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:rneart:v:15:y:2016:i:3:p:117-146:n:3

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    Cited by:

    1. Egor A. Krivosheya, 2018. "Evaluating Efficient Multilateral Interchange Fees: Evidence from End-User Benefits," HSE Working papers WP BRP 66/FE/2018, National Research University Higher School of Economics.

    More about this item


    interchange fees; merchants; must-take cards; network externalities; payment cards; two-sided markets;

    JEL classification:

    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce
    • D4 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design


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