Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Competition Policy Issues in the Consumer Payments Industry

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Economides Given that today is known as Black Friday in the United States (the busiest shopping day of the year) it is only fitting that we focus on consumer payments and antitrust.  Nicholas Economides, NYU - Stern School of Business presents an interesting proposal in his paper Competition Policy Issues in the Consumer Payments Industry.

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.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/antitrustprof_blog/2008/11/competition-pol.html

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