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Why don’t most merchants use price discounts to steer consumer payment choice?
Recent legislation and court settlements in the United States allow merchants to use price discounts to steer customers to pay with means of payment that are less costly to merchants. This paper suggests one method of calculating merchants? change in profit associated with giving price discounts to buyers who pay with debit cards and cash. We use data from the pilot of the Boston Fed?s Diary of Consumer Payment Choice to compute rough estimates of the expected net cost reduction by merchant type that may result from debit card and cash price discounts. We find that steering consumers to debit and cash via price discounts reduces some merchants? card costs. However, this cost reduction may be insufficient to offset the cost increase of administering price menus that vary by payment instrument. In addition, rewards buyers receive on credit card transactions may exceed the price discounts that merchants can provide. These factors may explain why steering via price discounts is not widely observed.
AUTHORS: Shy, Oz; Briglevics, Tamas
This is what's in your wallet... and here's how you use it
Models of money demand, in the Baumol (1952)-Tobin (1956) tradition, describe optimal cash management policy in terms of when and how much cash to withdraw, an (s, S) policy. However, today, a vast array of instruments can be used to make payments, opening additional ways to control cash holdings. This paper utilizes data from the 2012 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice to simultaneously analyze payment instrument choice and withdrawals. We use the insights in Rust (1987) to extend existing models of payment instrument choice into a dynamic setting to study cash management. Our estimates show that withdrawals are rather costly relative to the benefits of having cash. It takes 3-8 transactions to recoup the fixed withdrawal costs. The reason is that the shadow value of cash decreases substantially with the number of available payment instruments and, correspondingly, individuals are less likely to make withdrawals.
AUTHORS: Schuh, Scott; Briglevics, Tamas
U.S. consumer demand for cash in the era of low interest rates and electronic payments
U.S. consumers' demand for cash is estimated with new panel micro data for 2008-2010 using econometric methodology similar to Mulligan and Sala-i-Martin (2000); Attanasio, Guiso, and Jappelli (2002); and Lippi and Secchi (2009). We extend the Baumol-Tobin model to allow for credit card payments and revolving debt, as in Sastry (1970). With interest rates near zero, cash demand by consumers using credit cards for convenience (without revolving debt) has the same small, negative, interest elasticity as estimated in earlier periods and with broader money measures. However, cash demand by consumers using credit cards to borrow (with revolving debt) is interest inelastic. These findings may have aggregate implications for the welfare cost of inflation because then nontrivial share of consumers who revolve credit card debt are less likely to switch from cash to credit. In the 21st century, consumers get cash from bank and nonbank sources with heterogeneous transactions costs, so withdrawal location is essential to identify cash demand properly.
AUTHORS: Briglevics, Tamas; Schuh, Scott