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Shrouded transaction costs: must-take cards, discounts and surcharges

Hélène Bourguignon, Renato Gomes and Jean Tirole

International Journal of Industrial Organization, 2019, vol. 63, issue C, 99-144

Abstract: The proliferation of new payment methods on the Internet rekindles the old and unsettled debate about merchants’ incentive and ability to differentiate price according to payment choice. This paper develops an imperfect-information framework for the analysis of platform and social regulation of card surcharging and cash discounting. It makes three main contributions. First, it identifies the conditions under which concerns about missed sales induce merchants to perceive that they must take the card. Second, it derives a set of predictions about cash discounts, card surcharges and platform fees that shed light on existing evidence. Finally, it shows that the optimal regulation of surcharging is related to public policy toward merchant fees and substantially differs from current practice.

Keywords: Payment cards; Cash discounts; Card surcharges; Hold-ups in two-sided markets; Missed sales (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D83 L10 L41 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:indorg:v:63:y:2019:i:c:p:99-144

DOI: 10.1016/j.ijindorg.2018.10.004

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