Journal Article

Cash or Debit Cards? Payment Acceptance Costs for Merchants

Abstract: Fumiko Hayashi examines which of two payment methods—cash or debit cards—is more costly for merchants to accept in person in six countries: the United States, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden. She finds that debit cards have been more costly for merchants to accept than cash in the United States in recent years, while cash has become more costly to accept than debit cards in the other five countries. Two factors explain this difference. First, although interchange fees are just one component of merchants’ debit card acceptance costs, the fees alone are higher than the total cost of accepting cash in the United States. Second, the number of cash transactions has declined at a much slower pace in the United States than in other countries, keeping the cost of accepting cash from rising.

Keywords: Payments; Debit Cards; Interchange Fees;

JEL Classification: E42;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Part of Series: Economic Review

Publication Date: 2021-08-05

Volume: 106

Issue: no.3

Pages: 5-21