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An introduction to the economics of payment card networks

Open payment card networks typically coordinate the activities of thousands of financial institutions that issue cards, millions of retail locations that accept them, and several hundred million consumers that use them. This coordination can include the collective setting of certain prices and other controversial network rules. Such practices have recently come under the scrutiny of antitrust authorities in the U.S. and abroad. This paper provides a brief overview of the economics of the payment card industry, explaining some of the differences from the textbook model of competitive markets. Such differences are important factors for the antitrust analysis of payment card networks. ; Also issued as Payment Cards Center Discussion Paper No. 03-08

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 03-10.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Publication status: Published in Review of Network Economics, June 2003, pp 80-96
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:03-10
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  1. John P. Caskey & Gordon H. Sellon, Jr., 1994. "Is the debit card revolution finally here?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q IV, pages 79-95.
  2. Marius Schwartz & Daniel Vincent, 2002. "Same Price, Cash, or Card: Vertical Control by Payment Networks," Working Papers gueconwpa~02-02-01, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  3. Rochet Jean-Charles, 2003. "The Theory of Interchange Fees: A Synthesis of Recent Contributions," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(2), pages 1-28, June.
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  11. Sujit Chakravorti & William R. Emmons, 2001. "Who pays for credit cards?," Occasional Paper; Emerging Payments EPS-2001-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
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  13. Robert M. Hunt, 2002. "The development and regulation of consumer credit reporting in America," Working Papers 02-21, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  14. Kitch, Edmund W, 1990. "The Framing Hypothesis: Is It Supported by Credit Card Issuer Opposition to a Surcharge on a Cash Price?," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(1), pages 217-33, Spring.
  15. David S. Evans & Richard Schmalensee, 2002. "Some Economic Aspects of Antitrust Analysis in Dynamically Competitive Industries," NBER Chapters, in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 2, pages 1-50 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Michael L. Katz & Carl Shapiro, 1994. "Systems Competition and Network Effects," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 93-115, Spring.
  17. Steven D. Felgran & R. Edward Ferguson, 1986. "The evolution of retail EFT networks," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Jul, pages 42-56.
  18. 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.
  19. S. J. Liebowitz & Stephen E. Margolis, 1994. "Network Externality: An Uncommon Tragedy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 133-150, Spring.
  20. Chakravorti, Sujit & To, Ted, 2007. "A theory of credit cards," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 583-595, June.
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