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Scale economies, cost efficiencies, and technological change in Federal Reserve payments processing

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  • Paul W. Bauer
  • Gary D. Ferrier

Abstract

This paper uses a stochastic cost frontier to examine the scale economies, cost efficiencies, and technological change of three payment instruments (check, ACH, and Fedwire processing) provided by the Federal Reserve over the period 1990-94. The authors find evidence of substantial scale economies and cost inefficiencies in the ACH and Fedwire services. Check processing also exhibits substantial cost inefficiency but constant returns to scale. Technological progress is found to be sizable for ACH and Fedwire; check processing is found to have experienced technological 'regress,' a finding that is likely due to a decrease in processing volume over the sample period. Copyright 1996 by Ohio State University Press.
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Suggested Citation

  • Paul W. Bauer & Gary D. Ferrier, 1996. "Scale economies, cost efficiencies, and technological change in Federal Reserve payments processing," Proceedings, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), pages 1004-1044.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgpr:y:1996:p:1004-1044
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    Cited by:

    1. Gilbert, R. Alton & Wheelock, David C. & Wilson, Paul W., 2004. "New evidence on the Fed's productivity in providing payments services," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(9), pages 2175-2190, September.
    2. Joanna Stavins, 2002. "Effect of consumer characteristics on the use of payment instruments," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Q 3, pages 19-31.
    3. Joanna Stavins & Paul Bauer, 1999. "The Effect of Pricing on Demand and Revenue in Federal Reserve ACH Payment Processing," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 16(1), pages 27-45, September.
    4. Wheelock, David C. & Wilson, Paul W., 2008. "Non-parametric, unconditional quantile estimation for efficiency analysis with an application to Federal Reserve check processing operations," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 145(1-2), pages 209-225, July.
    5. Hancock, Diana & Humphrey, David B., 1997. "Payment transactions, instruments, and systems: A survey," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(11-12), pages 1573-1624, December.
    6. Beijnen, Christine & Bolt, Wilko, 2009. "Size matters: Economies of scale in European payments processing," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 203-210, February.
    7. William P. Osterberg & James B. Thomson, 1999. "Banking consolidation and correspondent banking," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q I, pages 9-20.
    8. Adams, Robert M & Bauer, Paul W & Sickles, Robin C, 2004. "Scale Economies, Scope Economies, and Technical Change in Federal Reserve Payment Processing," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(5), pages 943-958, October.
    9. W. Scott Frame & Lawrence J. White, 2009. "Technological Change, Financial Innovation, and Diffusion in Banking," Working Papers 09-03, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
    10. Kabir Hassan, M. & Tufte, David R., 2001. "The X-Efficiency of a Group-Based Lending Institution: The Case of the Grameen Bank," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 1071-1082, June.
    11. William R. Emmons, 1996. "Price stability and the efficiency of the retail payments system," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Sep, pages 49-61.
    12. Tanai Khiaonarong, 2004. "Payment systems efficiency, policy approaches, and the role of the central bank," Finance 0405004, EconWPA.
    13. Altunbas, Y. & Chakravarty, S. P., 2001. "Frontier cost functions and bank efficiency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 233-240, August.
    14. Hromcová, Jana, 2008. "Learning-or-doing in a cash-in-advance economy with costly credit," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 2826-2853, September.
    15. Guerino Ardizzi, 2003. "Cost efficiency in the retail payment networks: first evidence from the Italian credit card system," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 480, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    16. Tara Rice, 2003. "The importance of payments-driven revenues to franchise value and in estimating bank performance," Emerging Issues, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    17. Robert M. Adams & Paul W. Bauer & Robin C. Sickles, 2002. "Scope and scale economies in Federal Reserve payment processing," Working Paper 0213, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    18. Fiordelisi, Franco, 2007. "Shareholder value efficiency in European banking," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(7), pages 2151-2171, July.
    19. David C. Wheelock & Paul W. Wilson, 2004. "Trends in the efficiency of Federal Reserve check processing operations," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Sep, pages 7-20.
    20. Guido K. Schaefer, 2008. "An Economic Analysis of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA)," FIW Working Paper series 011, FIW.
    21. Loretta J. Mester, 2003. "Applying efficiency measurement techniques to central banks," Working Papers 03-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

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    Keywords

    Payment systems;

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