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Toward a theory of merchant credit card acceptance

  • Sujit Chakravorti
  • Ted To

In this article, we construct a two-period model to investigate what market conditions would support a credit card equilibrium given two commonly observed credit card pricing conventions consumers rarely are charged higher prices for using their credit cards and if they payoff their credit card obligations every month, they enjoy interest-free short-term credit. The results of the model indicate that when the card issuer's cost of funds is not too high and the merchant's profit margin is sufficiently high, a credit card equilibrium can exist. We also and that the credit-issuer's ability to charge higher merchant discount fees depends on the number of customers gained when credit cards are accepted. Thus, credit cards exhibit characteristics of network goods.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-99-16.

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Date of creation: 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-99-16
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  1. Paul S. Calem & Loretta J. Mester, 1995. "Consumer behavior and the stickiness of credit card interest rates," Working Papers 95-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  2. Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Wright, Randall, 1993. "A Search-Theoretic Approach to Monetary Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 63-77, March.
  3. Whitesell, William C, 1992. "Deposit Banks and the Market for Payment Media," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 24(4), pages 483-98, November.
  4. Nicholas Economides, 1997. "The Economics of Networks," Industrial Organization 9701002, EconWPA.
  5. Katz, Michael L & Shapiro, Carl, 1985. "Network Externalities, Competition, and Compatibility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 424-40, June.
  6. Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Wright, Randall, 1989. "On Money as a Medium of Exchange," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 927-54, August.
  7. Sujit Chakravorti & William R. Emmons, 2001. "Who pays for credit cards?," Occasional Paper; Emerging Payments EPS-2001-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  8. Brito, Dagobert L & Hartley, Peter R, 1995. "Consumer Rationality and Credit Cards," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(2), pages 400-433, April.
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