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Plastic Clashes: Competition Among Closed and Open Payment Systems


  • Fabio Maria Manenti

    () (University of Padua)

  • Ernesto Somma

    () (University of Bari and Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri)


This paper analyses market competition between two different types of payment schemes: card associations and proprietary systems. The main focus is on the role of the collective setting of the interchange fee by members of the association. We describe the sterilising role of the interchange fee: when the interchange fee is set so as to maximise the sum of issuers' and acquirers' profits, the equilibrium values of platforms' profits, of the sum of the fees charged by each platform and their market shares are independent of the competitive conditions within the associated members on the two sides of the market and are affected by the strength of inter-platform competition. We also show that the privately set interchange fee is socially inefficient, although this is not due to anticompetitive reasons.

Suggested Citation

  • Fabio Maria Manenti & Ernesto Somma, 2010. "Plastic Clashes: Competition Among Closed and Open Payment Systems," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0111, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
  • Handle: RePEc:pad:wpaper:0111

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mark Armstrong, 2006. "Competition in two‐sided markets," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(3), pages 668-691, September.
    2. Gans Joshua S & King Stephen P., 2003. "Approaches to Regulating Interchange Fees in Payment Systems," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(2), pages 1-21, June.
    3. Jean-Charles Rochet & Jean Tirole, 2014. "Platform Competition in Two-Sided Markets," CPI Journal, Competition Policy International, vol. 10.
    4. Caillaud, Bernard & Jullien, Bruno, 2003. " Chicken & Egg: Competition among Intermediation Service Providers," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(2), pages 309-328, Summer.
    5. Geoffrey G. Parker & Marshall W. Van Alstyne, 2005. "Two-Sided Network Effects: A Theory of Information Product Design," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(10), pages 1494-1504, October.
    6. Graeme Guthrie & Julian Wright, 2007. "COMPETING PAYMENT SCHEMES -super-," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 37-67, March.
    7. Wilko Bolt & Sujit Chakravorti, 2008. "Economics of payment cards: a status report," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q IV, pages 15-27.
    8. Bolt, Wilko & Tieman, Alexander F., 2008. "Heavily skewed pricing in two-sided markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 1250-1255, September.
    9. 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.
    10. Chakravorti Sujit & Roson Roberto, 2006. "Platform Competition in Two-Sided Markets: The Case of Payment Networks," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-25, March.
    11. Schmalensee, Richard, 2002. "Payment Systems and Interchange Fees," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 103-122, June.
    12. 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.
    13. Nicholas Economides, "undated". "Network Economics with Application to Finance," Financial Networks _004, Economics of Networks.
    14. 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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    More about this item


    credit cards; interchange fee; two-sided markets; network externalities;

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship
    • L42 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Vertical Restraints; Resale Price Maintenance; Quantity Discounts


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