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Author:Wang, Zhu 

Working Paper
Microfoundations of two-sided markets: the payment card example

This paper provides a theory of two-sided market dynamics with arguably better microfoundations. These alternative microfoundations focus on observable heterogeneities of both sides of the market in a competitive framework. The theory is rich in empirical predictions and is less dependent on a particular form of imperfect competition than other approaches. Our findings in the payment card example point to adoption costs and the distribution of consumer incomes and firm sizes as the key determinants of the shares of costs borne by each side. This result provides clear implications for industry ...
Payments System Research Working Paper , Paper PSR WP 06-01

Working Paper
Learning, diffusion and the industry life cycle

An industry typically experiences initial mass entry and later shakeout of producers over its life cycle. It can be explained as a competitive equilibrium outcome driven by the dynamic interaction between technology progress and demand diffusion. When a new product is introduced, high-income consumers tend to adopt it first. Technology then improves with cumulative output and demand growth generates S-shaped diffusion as the product penetrates lower-income groups. Eventually fewer new adopters are available and the number of firms starts to decline. It is shown that faster technological ...
Payments System Research Working Paper , Paper PSR WP 04-01

Working Paper
Market structure and credit card pricing: what drives the interchange?

This paper presents a model for the credit card industry, where oligopolistic card networks price their products in a complex marketplace with competing payment instruments, rational consumers/merchants, and competitive card issuers/acquirers. The analysis suggests that card networks demand higher interchange fees to maximize card issuers' profits as card payments become more efficient. At equilibrium, consumer rewards and card transaction volume also increase, while consumer surplus and merchant profits may not. The model provides a unified framework to evaluate credit card industry ...
Payments System Research Working Paper , Paper PSR WP 06-04

Working Paper
Internet banking: an exploration in technology diffusion and impact

This paper studies endogenous diffusion and impact of a cost-saving technological innovation -- Internet Banking. When the innovation is initially introduced, large banks have an advantage to adopt it first and enjoy further growth of size. Over time, as the innovation diffuses into smaller banks, the aggregate bank size distribution increases stochastically towards a new steady state. Applying the theory to a panel study of Internet Banking diffusion across 50 US states, we examine the technological, economic and institutional factors governing the process. The empirical findings allow us to ...
Payments System Research Working Paper , Paper PSR WP 05-05

Working Paper
Technological innovation and market turbulence: the dot-com experience

This paper explains market turbulence, such as the recent dotcom boom/bust cycle, as equilibrium industry dynamics triggered by technology innovation. When a major technology innovation arrives, a wave of new firms enter the market implementing the innovation for profits. However, if the innovation complements existing technology, some new entrants will later be forced out as more and more incumbent firms succeed in adopting the innovation. It is shown that the diffusion of Internet technology among traditional brick-and-mortar firms is indeed the driving force behind the rise and fall of ...
Payments System Research Working Paper , Paper PSR WP 05-02

Working Paper
Why do card issuers charge proportional fees?

This paper explains why payment card companies charge consumers and merchants fees which are proportional to the transaction values instead of charging a fixed per-transaction fee. Our theory shows that, even in the absence of any cost considerations, card companies earn much higher profit when they charge proportional fees. It is also shown that competition among merchants reduces card companies' gains from using proportional fees relative to a fixed per-transaction fee. Merchants are found to be the losers from proportional fees whereas consumer and social welfare are invariant with respect ...
Research Working Paper , Paper RWP 08-13

Working Paper
The economics of two-sided payment card markets: pricing, adoption and usage

This paper provides a new theory for two-sided payment card markets by positing better microfoundations. Adopting payment cards by consumers and merchants requires a fixed cost, but yields lower marginal costs of making payments. Considering this together with the heterogeneity of consumer income and merchant size, our theory derives card adoption and usage pattern consistent with cross-section and time-series evidence. Our analyses also help explain the observed card pricing pattern, particularly the rising merchant (interchange) fees over time. This is because a private card network, ...
Research Working Paper , Paper RWP 08-12

Working Paper
Spin-offs: theory and evidence from the early U.S. automobile industry

We develop "passive learning" model of firm entry by spin-off : firm employees leave their employer and create a new firm when (a) they learn they are good entrepreneurs (type I spin-offs) or (b) they learn their employer's prospects are bad (type II spin-offs). Our theory predicts a high correlation between spin-offs and parent exit, especially when the parent is a low-productivity firm. This correlation may correspond to two types of causality: spin-off causes firm exit (type I spin-offs) and firm exit causes spin-offs (type II spin-offs). We test and confirm this and other model ...
Research Working Paper , Paper RWP 08-15

Working Paper
Product innovation and network survival in the U.S. ATM and debit card network industry

This paper studies product innovation and firm survival in the U.S. ATM/debit card industry. The industry started with a few shared ATM networks in the early 1970s. The number of networks grew quickly up until the mid 1980s, but then declined sharply. We construct a theoretical model based on Jovanovic and MacDonald (1994). In contrast to their model focusing on cost-saving technological innovation, our model shows a major product innovation may also trigger the shakeout. The theoretical predictions are tested using a novel dataset on network entry, exit, size, location, ownership and product ...
Research Working Paper , Paper RWP 08-14

Working Paper
The economics of two-sided payment card markets: pricing, adoption and usage

This paper provides a new theory for two-sided payment card markets. Adopting payment cards requires consumers and merchants to pay a fixed cost, but yields a lower marginal cost of making payments. Analyzing adoption and usage externalities among heterogeneous consumers and merchants, our theory derives the equilibrium card adoption and usage pattern consistent with empirical evidence. Our analysis also helps explain the card pricing puzzles, particularly the high and rising merchant (interchange) fees. Based on the theoretical framework, we discuss socially desirable payment card fees as ...
Working Paper , Paper 12-06

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