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Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
Economic Review
Nonbanks in the payments system: innovation, competition, and risk - a conference summary
Richard J. Sullivan
Zhu Wang

From the early days of automated card sorting to the more recent times of the Internet and check imaging, payments and payments processing have continually embraced new technology. At the same time, the industry has been shaped by its share of entry and exit, through startups, mergers, and the reorganization of businesses seeking the proper scope of horizontal and vertical integration. ; These changes have enabled nonbank organizations to play a larger role in the payments system. Nonbanks have followed a number of pathways to more prominence: purchasing bank payment processing subsidiaries, carving out niches in the payments market through innovation, and taking advantage of economies of scale made possible by shifting to electronic forms of payment. ; Nonbanks have introduced some of the most far-reaching innovations to the payments system in recent years, leading to greater efficiencies in payments processing. At the same time, nonbanks have changed the dynamics of competition in payments, leading to a significant change in the system’s risk profile. ; Sullivan and Wang summarize the proceedings of a conference on nonbanks in the payments system held by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on May 2-4, 2007. The conference addressed many of the key questions raised by the growing presence of nonbanks in payments, including: Have recent payment innovations been more likely to come from nonbanks? Have nonbanks improved or harmed competition in payments? Have nonbanks increased risk or helped to develop tools to manage it? How should public policy respond as increasingly more activity in payments lies outside of the banking system?

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Richard J. Sullivan & Zhu Wang, "Nonbanks in the payments system: innovation, competition, and risk - a conference summary" , Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Economic Review, issue Q III, pages 83-106, 2007.
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Keywords: Payment systems ; Nonbank financial institutions
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