Oligopoly on credit cards: instant spending power essay

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Oligopoly on credit cards: instant spending power essay

The US Supreme Court just bolstered the case for peer-to-peer payments Attempts to correct credit card industry oligopoly through legislation or courts are well-meaning, but they also beg the question: On Monday, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling in favor of the credit card industryat the expense of cardholders and merchants who accept credit card payments.

While the decision has been read narrowly in terms of antitrust law, it highlights the potential for broader common ground among innovators of new financial technologies, public interest lawyers who are pushing back on monopolistic behavior, and progressive economists.

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Putting aside political feasibility or efficacy, these measures are entirely focused on centrally-controlled federal solutions to the problem of monopolistic behavior by payment providers.

Frustration with the credit card industry is longstanding and well-founded. Unlike cash, there is essentially no privacy with plastic.

Because payments are peer-to-peer rather than, e. On the Lightning Network, the most prominent of these peer-to-peer networks, transactions are instant with near-zero fees and use onion routinglike on the Tor Browser, to better protect privacy.

So while attempts to correct credit card industry oligopoly through legislation or courts may be well-meaning, they also beg the question: I have two theories. My first theory is that many economists are simply not familiar with peer-to-peer payment networks.

A number of them seem to not like Bitcoin and associate Bitcoin with the Lightning Network.

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But if that changes - if, for example, the Federal Reserve or another bank lets people trade dollars in exchange for a Lightning-compatible digital currency backed 1: So an objection to peer-to-peer payments on the grounds that it specifically promotes Bitcoin is short-sighted, at best.

To be sure, peer-to-peer payment networks like the Lightning Network are still young. They need to undergo more testing.

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More competition for payment processing could spur innovation and lower fees from the hundred-billion dollar credit card industry. And attention could encourage more investment in companies that build infrastructure and drive programmers to dedicate time towards making the network robust so it can handle a massive amount of peer-to-peer payments without sacrificing speed or security.

Oligopoly on credit cards: instant spending power essay

And there is certainly no reason for proponents of those goals, particularly economists concerned with monopoly and oligopoly power, to ignore the idea of handling point-of-sale transactions on a peer-to-peer basis, rather than via third party payment processors with little competition or reason to improve fees or services.

Retailers and customers can still choose to use credit cards if they wish, earning points or miles or any other benefits, but plenty might prefer to skip the transaction fees and handle their purchases privately and peer-to-peer, akin to using cash, with the speed and convenience of plastic.

Picture from Wikimedia Commons.> Spending More Of The Budget On Education. Spending More Of The Budget On Education.

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order now. Social . Because payments are peer-to-peer (rather than, e.g., cardholder-to-credit card bank-to-merchant bank-to-merchant), there is no oligopoly pushing parties to pay expensive transaction fees.

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Oligopoly on credit cards: instant spending power essay

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