Competition Policy Issues in the Consumer Payments Industry

MOVING MONEY: THE FUTURE OF CONSUMER PAYMENT, Robert E. Litan and Martin Neil Baily, eds., Brookings, 2009

NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 08-56

NET Institute Working Paper No. 08-39

21 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2008 Last revised: 7 Jun 2009

Nicholas Economides

New York University - Leonard N. Stern School of Business - Department of Economics

Date Written: April 1, 2009

Abstract

We discuss the current structure of card networks that facilitate transactions between merchants and consumers. We find that presently fees for this intermediation are considerably higher than costs. This is facilitated by rules imposed by the card networks on the merchants that do not allow merchants to steer competition to cards that have lower fees. It has also been facilitated by the requirement that a merchant has to accept all cards of the same network (honor all cards rule) - recently abolished in the US, as well as by the fact that the networks set the maximum interface fee between issuing and acquiring banks. We propose the abolition of anti-steering rules so that merchants are able to pass on card holders the costs of the card they use. This will facilitate inter- and intra-network competition and will improve the competitiveness and efficiency of the market.

Keywords: card networks, payment systems, anti-steering, surcharge, discrimination, oligopoly, collusion, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, credit card, debit card

JEL Classification: L13, L41, L42, L50, L89

Suggested Citation

Economides, Nicholas, Competition Policy Issues in the Consumer Payments Industry (April 1, 2009). MOVING MONEY: THE FUTURE OF CONSUMER PAYMENT, Robert E. Litan and Martin Neil Baily, eds., Brookings, 2009; NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 08-56; NET Institute Working Paper No. 08-39. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1296148

Nicholas Economides (Contact Author)

New York University - Leonard N. Stern School of Business - Department of Economics ( email )

44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
United States
212-998-0864 (Phone)
212-995-4218 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/networks/

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