Friday, January 04, 2008

van Hove's take on the Commission flawed interchange decision

Amidst all the political noise on the interchange decision of the Commission it is good to also see that some academics still see the whole picture and have the courage to challenge politicians where it hurts. See this article by Leo van Hove and more particularly his closing remark:

So if regulating one payment instrument can have unintended repercussions on substitutes, and a prohibition of interchange fees would be a leap in the dark, what are enlightened policy makers to do? They could simply try to ensure that market forces work, and in particular that merchants cannot be locked in by card networks. To that end, retailers should be allowed to "surcharge" and pass on interchange fees to consumers. Promoting competition among card networks as well as among various payment instruments should also be high on regulators' lists. More generally, we need policy makers who have a comprehensive vision of the future of our payment system -- and who have the political courage to make cash more expensive in order to lower its cost to society.