Getting Published
About RNE
Contact RNE
  home > latest issue > Abstract: Efficiency and Competition between Payment Instruments


Efficiency and Competition between Payment Instruments

The Review of Network Economics

Vol. 5, Issue 1 - March 2006, pp 26 - 44

  Joseph Farrell
University of California, Berkeley
E-mail: [email protected]

  A payment instrument that disproportionately charges merchants (as with high interchange) can take business from others that offer the two-sided customer better deals. This competitive bias arises because merchants internalize cardholders' benefits (even without merchant competition). Use of an instrument with high merchant fees also raises prices paid by other consumers, a non-pecuniary externality. While it can be allocatively efficient to tax rivals of a firm (or cooperative) with market power, competition policy urges otherwise. The competitive bias and the externality on other consumers vanish when competing payment instruments are equally costly to merchants, suggesting a simple policy benchmark.

Keywords: Interchange fees, credit cards, merchant internalization, competition policy

View PDF

[ next abstract ]