By Ronald J. Mann

This ebook tells the tale of charge cards all over the world: why humans use them, the results at the economies of the countries the place they succeed, why they're used so otherwise world wide, and what can be performed to reply to the issues they reason. It encompasses a wealth of knowledge from around the globe, attention-grabbing narratives concerning the alterations from kingdom to nation, and penetrating analyses of guidelines that may stem misuse of playing cards.

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Systemically, the advantages should make debit cards less attractive to consumers, but more attractive to merchants, than credit cards. Those distinctions might seem arbitrary. However, there are also important policy distinctions between the two kinds of cards. In particular, as discussed in Chapter 4, there is good reason to think that debit cards are less likely to contribute to the excessive spending and financial distress that makes credit cards so troublesome. Accordingly, policies that push consumers from credit cards to debit cards could have a salutary effect on the net costs of payment systems.

8 Ease of use, however, does not capture the entire point, for even among plastic cards there is a cognizable, albeit subtle, difference in the psychology of payment. As Chapter 9 discusses, there is good reason to think that American consumers, at least, react differently to payments with a debit card and payments with a credit card. The tie between a THE PSYCHOLOGY OF CARD PAYMENTS 47 debit card and funds already on deposit in a checking account helps to maintain a reality and appreciation for the pain of payment that a credit card dissipates by its separation of the point when the purchase is made from the point when the consumer must decide when (or even whether) to pay for the purchase.

PART II Easy Money T he payment card is perhaps the most important financial innovation of the twentieth century. Like many other innovations, it developed gradually, resulting from a series of cumulative advances. Accident also played a significant role, as explained in detail in Part III. The benefits of the payment card are obvious. In essence, it provides easy money. As a payment device, it is faster and cheaper to use than paper-based payment systems. As a lending tool, it can be used to borrow indefinite amounts for a broad range of purchases without providing security or even stepping into a bank.

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