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Tying in Two-Sided Markets and the Honor All Cards Rule

  • Rochet, Jean-Charles
  • Tirole, Jean

Payment card associations offer both debit and credit cards and, until recently, engaged in a tie-in on the merchant side through the so-called honour-all-cards (HAC) rule. The HAC rule came under attack on the grounds that the credit and debit card markets are separate markets and that the associations lever their market power in the 'credit card market' to exclude on-line debit cards and thereby monopolize the 'debit card market'. This article analyzes the impact of the HAC rule, using a simple model with two types of transactions (debit and credit) and two platforms. In the benchmark model, in the absence of HAC rule, the interchange fee (IF, the transfer from the merchant’s bank to the cardholder’s bank) on debit is socially too low, and that on credit is either optimal or too high (depending on downstream members’ market power). In either case, the HAC rule not only benefits the multi-card platform but also raises social welfare, due to a rebalancing effect: The HAC rule allows the multi-card platform to better perform the balancing act by raising the IF on debit and lowering it on credit, ultimately raising volume. The paper then investigates a number of extensions of the benchmark model, including varying degrees of substitutability between debit and credit; merchant heterogeneity; and platform differentiation. While the HAC rule may no longer raise social welfare under all values of the parameters, the basic and socially beneficial rebalancing effect unveiled in the benchmark model is robust.

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Paper provided by Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse in its series IDEI Working Papers with number 440.

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Date of creation: Feb 2006
Date of revision: 2007
Publication status: Published in International Journal of Industrial Organization, vol.�26, n°6, novembre 2008, p.�1333-1347.
Handle: RePEc:ide:wpaper:1992
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  1. Whinston, Michael D, 1990. "Tying, Foreclosure, and Exclusion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 837-59, September.
  2. Richard Schmalensee, 2001. "Payment Systems and Interchange Fees," NBER Working Papers 8256, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Dennis W. Carlton & Michael Waldman, 1998. "The Strategic Use Of Tying To Preserve And Create Market Power In Evolving Industries," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 145, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  4. Julian Wright, 2004. "The Determinants of Optimal Interchange Fees in Payment Systems," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(1), pages 1-26, 03.
  5. Carbajo, Jose & de Meza, David & Seidmann, Daniel J, 1990. "A Strategic Motivation for Commodity Bundling," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(3), pages 283-98, March.
  6. George-Marios Angeletos, 2001. "The Hyberbolic Consumption Model: Calibration, Simulation, and Empirical Evaluation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 47-68, Summer.
  7. 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.
  8. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:3:p:645-667 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Choi, Jay Pil & Stefanadis, Christodoulos, 2001. "Tying, Investment, and the Dynamic Leverage Theory," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(1), pages 52-71, Spring.
  10. 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 541-88, October.
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