For some time now, merchants have spoken out about their inability to influence their customers' payment choice or to pass along the costs of payment instruments such as credit cards to their customers. The card networks, such as Visa and MasterCard, have received the brunt of the pricing criticism across the globe as public authorities seek to restructure payment costs. Yet, the networks argue that the fees they charge reflect the market value of their products. Consumer advocates often claim that consumers are unaware of the impact of their payment decisions and that some consumers end up subsidizing the payment choices of others. Adding to the mix, many nonbank payment providers are bringing innovative payment products to the market to satisfy changing consumer and merchant preferences and needs.
As consumers and merchants increasingly adopt electronic payments, the pricing of these services has generated substantial scrutiny by public authorities around the world. This policy discussion paper discusses these developments and related issues.