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Shrouded Transaction Costs

Author

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  • Bourguignon, Hélène
  • Gomes, Renato
  • Tirole, Jean

Abstract

The proliferation of new payment methods on the Internet rekindles the old and unsettled debate about merchants’ incentive and ability to differentiate price according to payment choice. This paper develops an imperfect-information framework for the analysis of platform and social regulation of card surcharging and cash discounting. It makes three main contributions. First, it identifies the conditions under which concerns about missed sales induce merchants to perceive that they must take the card. Second, it derives a set of predictions about cash discounts, card surcharges and platform fees that match, and shed light on existing evidence. Finally, it shows that the optimal regulation of surcharging is related to public policy toward merchant fees and substantially differs from current practice.

Suggested Citation

  • Bourguignon, Hélène & Gomes, Renato & Tirole, Jean, 2014. "Shrouded Transaction Costs," CEPR Discussion Papers 10171, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10171
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jean Tirole, 2009. "Cognition and Incomplete Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 265-294, March.
    2. Julian Wright, 2012. "Why payment card fees are biased against retailers," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 43(4), pages 761-780, December.
    3. 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.
    4. Kosfeld, Michael & Schüwer, Ulrich, 2011. "Add-on Pricing, Naive Consumers, and the Hidden Welfare Costs of Education," CEPR Discussion Papers 8636, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Mark Armstrong & John Vickers, 2012. "Consumer Protection and Contingent Charges," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(2), pages 477-493, June.
    6. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2018. "Shrouded attributes, consumer myopia and information suppression in competitive markets," Chapters,in: Handbook of Behavioral Industrial Organization, chapter 3, pages 40-74 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. Bolt, Wilko & Jonker, Nicole & van Renselaar, Corry, 2010. "Incentives at the counter: An empirical analysis of surcharging card payments and payment behaviour in the Netherlands," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(8), pages 1738-1744, August.
    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, March.
    9. 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.
    10. Schmalensee, Richard, 2002. "Payment Systems and Interchange Fees," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 103-122, June.
    11. 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.
    12. Wright, Julian, 2003. "Optimal card payment systems," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 587-612, August.
    13. Baxter, William F, 1983. "Bank Interchange of Transactional Paper: Legal and Economic Perspectives," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 541-588, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    card surcharges; cash discounts; hold-ups in two-sided markets; missed sales; payment cards;

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General
    • L41 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Monopolization; Horizontal Anticompetitive Practices

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