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Location of Repository / Same Price, Cash or Card: Vertical Control by Payments Networks by

By Marius Schwartz and Daniel R. VincentMarius Schwartz and Daniel R. Vincent


Abstract: The no-surcharge rule (NSR) prohibits merchants from charging different prices to consumers that use credit cards instead of cash. We show that, while an NSR raises card company profits, it may reduce both cash and card transactions. If the card company can offer rebates to its cardholders, it will do so. Rebates benefit card users and harm cash users; they raise total surplus if and only if the proportion of cash users relative to card users exceeds some threshold. A similar condition determines whether total surplus rises under the NSR with rebates compared to no NSR; aggregate consumer surplus moves in opposite direction to total surplus. If the card company cannot limit its member banks from competing vigorously, then an NSR, by cross-subsidizing card purchases, can still reduce total surplus

Year: 2001
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