Paying with Plastic, Second Edition

Paying with Plastic, Second Edition

The Digital Revolution in Buying and Borrowing

By David S. Evans and Richard Schmalensee

The definitive account of the trillion-dollar payment card industry.





The definitive account of the trillion-dollar payment card industry.

The payment card business has evolved from its inception in the 1950s as a way to handle payment for expense-account lunches (the Diners Club card) into today's complex, sprawling industry that drives trillions of dollars in transaction volume each year. Paying with Plastic is the definitive source on an industry that has revolutionized the way we borrow and spend. More than a history book, Paying with Plastic delivers an entertaining discussion of the impact of an industry that epitomizes the notion of two-sided markets: those in which two or more customer groups receive value only if all sides are actively engaged. New to this second edition, the two-sided market discussion provides useful insight into the implications of these market dynamics for cardholder rewards, merchant interchange fees, and card acceptance. The authors, both of whom have researched the industry for more than 25 years, also examine the implications of the recent antitrust cases on the industry as well as other business and technological changes—including the massive consolidation brought about by bank mergers, the rise of the debit card, and the emergence of e-commerce—that could alter the payment card industry dramatically in the years to come.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262050777 384 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 28 illus.


$34.95 T | £28.00 ISBN: 9780262550581 384 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 28 illus.


  • An excellent treatment of the payment card industry's evolving structure and conduct.

    Daniel Pope

    Enterprise & Society

  • Well-written and clearly presented.

    Tudor Marshall

    The Business Economist


  • Authors Evans and Schmalensee have written the definitive book on the business of bank cards. The reader will come away an expert, with a clear understanding of the business drivers, the players, and the complex issues behind the business of bank cards. This should be required reading for anyone engaged in the bank card industry, from executives at the associations to systems integrators and vendors that service this market.

    John C. Gould

    Director of Consumer Lending and Bank Cards Practice, TowerGroup

  • Paying with Plastic examines a quiet revolution in the U.S. economy the steady transition from checks and cash to credit, debit, and charge cards. The authors describe the causes and consequences of this transition in terms of economics and law all in plain English that the nonspecialist can understand. This book has become an immensely valuable source on an important subject.

    Robert Pitofsky

    Joseph and Madeline Sheehy Professor in Antitrust and Trade Regulation Law, and Dean Emeritus, Georgetown Law School, and former Chairman, Federal Trade Commission

  • Paying with Plastic is a practical discussion about a complex industry that drives almost $3 trillion in worldwide purchases every year. Evans and Schmalensee illuminate the inner workings of an industry that many know by virtue of the cards we carry in our wallets, but few really understand. It is required reading for anyone who works in, works with, or studies payment cards.

    Timothy Muris

    Foundation Professor of Law, George Mason University, and former Chairman, Federal Trade Commission

  • Evans and Schmalensee's Paying with Plastic provides a rigorous analysis and deep insights about the payment card industry's fascinating institutional features. This book will appeal not only to policy-makers and business executives, but also to the theoretically inclined economist. The second edition incorporates much new material, including recent advances to two-sided market economics (to which the authors have made substantial contributions). A remarkable achievement.

    Jean Tirole

    Institut d'Economie Industrielle, University of Toulouse