Competition and innovation in the consumer e-payments market? considering the demand, supply, and public policy issues
Significant debate has occurred over the last several decades regarding whether there is adequate competition and innovation in the non-recurring consumer payments segment of the banking industry. The Department of Justice and some retailers have sued Visa and MasterCard for limiting competition and innovation. There has also been a host of high profile product “failures” in the consumer e-payment market place (e.g., e-cash and smart card products). Meanwhile, some researchers have suggested that consumers are irrational and unresponsive to marketplace incentives (for instance, see Ausubel (1991)). ; Despite anecdotal reports which imply to some that “there’s something wrong” in this market, we find strong, though not yet scientifically conclusive evidence, that there is increasing competition, strong innovation, and customers who respond to market stimuli in the non-recurring consumer payments market. As a result, this paper argues that going forward, public sector involvement in the consumer non-recurring payment market will be less warranted. Based on the analysis of a unique 1,300 person survey, documentation and analysis of recent private sector-led developments, and a Federal Reserve payments benchmarking study, this paper discusses several of the demand-side, supply-side, consumer protection, and competition policy dimensions influencing this market. Four general lessons may be of particular interest to public policy makers and private sector firms.
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