Cooperation Among Competitors: Some Economics of Payment Card Associations

Posted: 15 Nov 2002

See all articles by Jean-Charles Rochet

Jean-Charles Rochet

Swiss Finance Institute; University of Geneva - Geneva Finance Research Institute (GFRI); University of Zurich - Swiss Banking Institute (ISB)

Jean Tirole

University of Toulouse 1 - Industrial Economic Institute (IDEI); University of Toulouse 1 - Groupe de Recherche en Economie Mathématique et Quantitative (GREMAQ); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Abstract

We analyze platforms in two-sided markets with network externalities, using the specific context of a payment card association. We study the cooperative determination of the interchange fee by member banks. The interchange fee is the "access charge" paid by the merchants' banks (the acquirers) to cardholders' banks (the issuers). We develop a framework in which banks and merchants may have market power and consumers and merchants decide rationally on whether to buy or accept a payment card. After drawing the welfare implications of a cooperative determination of the interchange fee, we describe in detail the factors affecting merchant resistance, compare cooperative and for-profit business models, and make a first cut in the analysis of system competition.

Suggested Citation

Rochet, Jean-Charles and Tirole, Jean, Cooperation Among Competitors: Some Economics of Payment Card Associations. RAND Journal of Economics, Vol. 33, No. 4, Winter 2002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=338220

Jean-Charles Rochet

Swiss Finance Institute ( email )

c/o University of Geneva
40, Bd du Pont-d'Arve
CH-1211 Geneva 4
Switzerland

University of Geneva - Geneva Finance Research Institute (GFRI) ( email )

40 Boulevard du Pont d'Arve
Geneva 4, Geneva 1211
Switzerland

University of Zurich - Swiss Banking Institute (ISB) ( email )

Plattenstrasse 14
CH-8032 Zurich, Zurich 8032
Switzerland

Jean Tirole (Contact Author)

University of Toulouse 1 - Industrial Economic Institute (IDEI) ( email )

Place Anatole France
21 Allees de Brienne
F-31042 Toulouse Cedex
France
+33 5 61 12 8642 (Phone)
+33 5 61 12 8637 (Fax)

University of Toulouse 1 - Groupe de Recherche en Economie Mathématique et Quantitative (GREMAQ) ( email )

Manufacture des Tabacs
21 Allees de Brienne
Toulouse, 31000
France

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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