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Working Paper
Bank Profitability and Debit Card Interchange Regulation: Bank Responses to the Durbin Amendment

The Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 alters the competitive structure of the debit card payment processing industry and caps debit card interchange fees for banks with over $10 billion in assets. Market participants predicted that debit card issuers would offset the reduction in debit interchange revenue by increases in customer account fees. Some participants also predicted that banks would cut costs in response to the law by reducing staff and shutting down branches. Using a difference-in-differences testing strategy, we show that ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2014-77

Discussion Paper
Bitcoin Is Not a New Type of Money

Bitcoin, and more generally, cryptocurrencies, are often described as a new type of money. In this post, we argue that this is a misconception. Bitcoin may be money, but it is not a new type of money. To see what is truly new about Bitcoin, it is useful to make a distinction between “money,” the asset that is being exchanged, and the “exchange mechanism,” that is, the method or process through which the asset is transferred. Doing so reveals that monies with properties similar to Bitcoin have existed for centuries. However, the ability to make electronic exchanges without a trusted ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20200618

Discussion Paper
What Can We Learn from the Timing of Interbank Payments?

From 2008 to 2014 the Federal Reserve vastly increased the size of its balance sheet, mainly through its large-scale asset purchase programs (LSAPs). The resulting abundance of reserves affected the financial system in a number of ways, including by changing the intraday timing of interbank payments. In this post we show that (1) there appears to be a nonlinear relationship between the amount of reserves in the system and the timing of interbank payments, and (2) with the increase in reserves, smaller banks shifted their timing of payments more significantly than larger banks did. This result ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20190225

The Song Remains the Same

Remarks at the New York Fed and Columbia SIPA Monetary Policy Implementation Workshop, New York City.

Journal Article
Consumer Payment Choice in the Fifth District: Learning from a Retail Chain

This paper studies payment variation across locations and time using five years of transactions data from a large discount retail chain with hundreds of stores across the Fifth District. The results show that the median transaction size, demographics, education levels, and state fixed effects are the top factors in explaining cross-location payment variation in the sample. We also identify interesting time patterns of payment variation, particularly the longer-term decline in the cash share of transactions largely replaced by debit.
Economic Quarterly , Issue 1Q , Pages 51-78

Journal Article
Addressing Traditional Credit Scores as a Barrier to Accessing Affordable Credit

Affordable credit enables consumers to better manage their finances, cope with unexpected emergencies, and pursue opportunities such as entrepreneurship or higher education. However, many consumers face difficulties obtaining the credit they need. A major impediment is lenders’ reliance on traditional credit scores to assess consumers’ creditworthiness. These credit scores affect not only loan approval decisions but also the interest rates consumers pay on their loans. While credit scores are intended to help lenders make informed decisions about consumers’ risk of default, they do not ...
Economic Review , Volume vol. 108 , Issue no. 3 , Pages 22

When It Rains, It Pours: Cyber Risk and Financial Conditions

We analyze how systemic cyber risk relates to the financial cycle and show that the potential impact of a cyber attack is systematically greater during stressed financial conditions. This is true over the past two decades and particularly at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when changes in payment activity increased vulnerability by approximately 50 percent relative to the rest of 2020 through more concentration and intraday liquidity stress. We evaluate the effectiveness of policy interventions used to stabilize markets at mitigating cyber vulnerability. We argue that cyber and other ...
Staff Reports , Paper 1022

U. S. consumer cash use, 2012 and 2015: an introduction to the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice

U.S. consumer cash payments averaged 26 percent of all U.S. consumer payments by number (volume share) from 2008 to 2015, according to the Survey of Consumer Payment Choice (SCPC), and were essentially unchanged between 2012 and 2015. New estimates from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice (DCPC) show that the volume share of consumer cash payments is higher than estimated in the SCPC and suggest that the cash volume share was 8 percentage points lower in 2015 than in 2012. The DCPC most likely does not provide an accurate estimate of the actual change in the cash volume share, however, due ...
Research Data Report , Paper 17-6

Discussion Paper
Since the Financial Crisis, Aggregate Payments Have Co-moved with Aggregate Reserves. Why?

Fedwire Funds, a key payment system in the United States, is used by banks to wire money to one another throughout the day. Historically, the total value of payments sent over Fedwire has been roughly proportional to economic activity. Since the financial crisis, however, we have instead observed a strong co-movement between total payments and the level of aggregate reserves. This co-movement suggests that a fraction of every dollar of reserves created recirculates on a daily basis. In this post, we investigate why total payments, a flow variable driven by real and financial activity, would ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20191104

Working Paper
Measuring consumer expenditures with payment diaries

As the 2012 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice (DCPC) illustrates, there are advantages to measuring consumer expenditures by tracking the authorization of payments by instrument type (cash, check, debit or credit card, etc.). The main advantages of payment diaries appear to be the following: 1) the ability to measure expenditures by payment instrument aggregated into lumpy purchases (?shopping baskets?), 2) relatively low respondent burden, and 3) effective random sampling. Three notable results emerge from comparing the 2012 DCPC estimates with estimates from other reputable estimates of the ...
Working Papers , Paper 17-2


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