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The evolution of payments in Europe, Japan, and the U.S. : lessons for emerging market economies


  • Humphrey, David B.
  • Setsuya, Sato
  • Masayoshi, Tsurumi
  • Vesala, Jukka M.


Some payment arrangements are more efficient in promoting economic growth in a market-based economy. The payment experience of industrial countries is diverse enough to identify those payment arrangements that provide the infrastructure for sustained growth and the emergence of market-based enterprise. Based on the historical experiences of Europe, Japan, and the United States, a number of Country attributes have led to the intensive use of different payment instruments and a different mix of private and public ownership and payment system participation. Such attributes included country size, population density, banking structure, legal framework, safety, and payment instrument pricing. These attributes explain why Japan relies heavily on cash at the point of sale, but uses electronic payments for bill payments and business transactions. They also are the reason Europe relies on credit-transfer giro payments for all types of transactions and United States instead relies on checks. Finally, the fact that consumer payment needs were not met within the banking system led to the establishment of postal giros in Europe, while untimely business payments led to central bank involvement in payment processing in the United States. Unmet user needs, inefficient payment arrangements, differences in payment instrument costs, and improper pricing of payment services will determine the future structure of payment systems in emerging market economies just as they have determined the evolution of payment systems in industrial countries. The authors discuss these issues and apply the lessons learned to payment arrangements in emerging market economies. Although the evolution of payments has taken decades in industrial countries, emerging market economies hope to complete the process in just a few years, and so will benefit by having a better roadmap for transforming their payment systems.

Suggested Citation

  • Humphrey, David B. & Setsuya, Sato & Masayoshi, Tsurumi & Vesala, Jukka M., 1996. "The evolution of payments in Europe, Japan, and the U.S. : lessons for emerging market economies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1676, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1676

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Winters,L. Alan & Venables,Anthony (ed.), 1993. "European Integration," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521435277.
    2. William Roberds, 1995. "Financial crises and the payments system: lessons from the National Banking Era," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Sep, pages 15-31.
    3. Angelini, P. & Maresca, G. & Russo, D., 1996. "Systemic risk in the netting system," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 853-868, June.
    4. James J. McAndrews, 1995. "Antitrust issues in payment systems: bottlenecks, access, and essential facilities," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Sep, pages 3-12.
    5. Neven, Damien J, 1989. "Structural Adjustment in European Retail Banking: Some Views from Industrial Organisation," CEPR Discussion Papers 311, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Gual, Jordi & Neven, Damien J, 1992. "Deregulation of the European Banking Industry (1980-1991)," CEPR Discussion Papers 703, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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