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E-Money: Efficiency, Stability and Optimal Policy

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  • Jonathan Chiu
  • Tsz-Nga Wong

Abstract

What makes e-money more special than cash? Is the introduction of e-money necessarily welfare enhancing? Is an e-money system necessarily stable? What is the optimal way to design an efficient and stable e-money scheme? This paper provides a first attempt to develop a micro-founded, dynamic, general-equilibrium model of e-money for investigating these policy issues. We first identify some superior features of e-money which help mitigate informational frictions and enhance social welfare in a cash economy. A model that features both trading frictions and two-sided platforms is then built and used to compare two potential e-money schemes: (i) public provision of e-money with decentralized adoption, and (ii) private monopolistic provision of e-money. We show that, in general, both public and private provision of e-money are inefficient, and we characterize the optimal incentive scheme by addressing four potential sources of inefficiency – market powers in goods trading, network externality, liquidity constraint and monopoly distortion in e-money issuance. We show that the welfare impact of e-money depends critically on whether cash is a viable alternative to e-money as a means of payment. When it is not (e.g., for online payments where usage of money is prohibitively costly), the adoption of e-money is always welfare enhancing, albeit not welfare maximizing. However, when cash is a viable alternative (e.g., in a coffee shop), introducing e-money can sometimes reduce social welfare. Moreover, a system with public provision and decentralized adoption is inherently unstable, while a planner or a private issuer can design a pricing scheme to restore stability. Lastly, we examine an alternative e-money scheme – a hypothetical set-up with public provision through a private platform. We also compare the impact of various provision schemes on central bank seigniorage income. While this scheme may or may not improve efficiency, it can always increase seigniorage income, even though there may exist better policy options such as imposing a cash reserve requirement or collecting a charter fee.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Chiu & Tsz-Nga Wong, 2014. "E-Money: Efficiency, Stability and Optimal Policy," Staff Working Papers 14-16, Bank of Canada.
  • Handle: RePEc:bca:bocawp:14-16
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jean-Charles Rochet & Jean Tirole, 2014. "Platform Competition in Two-Sided Markets," CPI Journal, Competition Policy International, vol. 10.
    2. E. Glen Weyl, 2010. "A Price Theory of Multi-sided Platforms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1642-1672, September.
    3. Gautam Gowrisankaran & Joanna Stavins, 2004. "Network Externalities and Technology Adoption: Lessons from Electronic Payments," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(2), pages 260-276, Summer.
    4. Jonathan Chiu & Tsz-Nga Wong, 2015. "On the Essentiality of E-Money," Staff Working Papers 15-43, Bank of Canada.
    5. Ben Fung & Miguel Molico & Gerald Stuber, 2014. "Electronic Money and Payments: Recent Developments and Issues," Discussion Papers 14-2, Bank of Canada.
    6. Kocherlakota, Narayana R., 1998. "Money Is Memory," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 232-251, August.
    7. Carlos Arango & Kim Huynh & Leonard Sabetti, 2011. "How Do You Pay? The Role of Incentives at the Point-of-Sale," Staff Working Papers 11-23, Bank of Canada.
    8. Wright, Julian, 2003. "Optimal card payment systems," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 587-612, August.
    9. Antoine Martin & Michael Orlando & David Skeie, 2008. "Payment networks in a search model of money," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(1), pages 104-132, January.
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    11. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Jasmina Arifovic & John Duffy & Janet Hua Jiang, 2017. "Adoption of a New Payment Method: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Staff Working Papers 17-28, Bank of Canada.
    2. Jesús Fernández-Villaverde & Daniel Sanches, 2016. "Can Currency Competition Work?," NBER Working Papers 22157, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Jasmina Arifovic & John Duffy & Janet Jiang, 2017. "Adoption of a New Payment System: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Working Papers 171801, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
    4. Jonathan Chiu & Tsz-Nga Wong, 2015. "On the Essentiality of E-Money," Staff Working Papers 15-43, Bank of Canada.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bank notes; E-money; Payment clearing and settlement systems;

    JEL classification:

    • E - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics
    • E4 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates
    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • L - Industrial Organization
    • L5 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation

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