NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Incompatibility, Product Attributes and Consumer Welfare: Evidence from ATMs

Christopher R. Knittel, Victor Stango

NBER Working Paper No. 10962
Issued in December 2004
NBER Program(s):   PR

Incompatibility in market with network effects reduces consumers' ability to "mix and match" components offered by different sellers, but can also spur changes in product attributes that might benefit consumers. In this paper, we estimate the effects of incompatibility on consumers in a classic hardware/software market: ATM cards and machines. We find that while ATM fees ceteris paribus reduce the network benefit from other banks' ATMs, a surge in ATM deployment accompanies the shift to surcharging. This is valuable to consumers and often completely offsets the harm from higher fees. The results suggest that policy discussions of incompatibility must consider not only its direct effect on consumers, but also its effect on product attributes.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10962

Published: Knittel Christopher R. & Stango Victor, 2008. "Incompatibility, Product Attributes and Consumer Welfare: Evidence from ATMs," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-42, January. citation courtesy of

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