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Payment Cards Center

The Payment Cards Center provides meaningful insights into developments in consumer credit and payments that are of interest not only to the Federal Reserve but also to the industry, other businesses, academia, policymakers, and the public at large. The center carries out its work through an agenda of research and analysis as well as forums and conferences that encourage dialogue incorporating industry, academic, and public-sector perspectives.

To listen to podcasts about the history and evolution of the Payment Cards Center, visit our podcasts page.

For information on all research on consumer credit and payments, go to our Program in Consumer Credit & Payments page.

What's New

March 2017

Working Paper Released: How Data Breaches Affect Consumer Credit

The authors use the 2012 South Carolina Department of Revenue data breach as a natural experiment to study how data breaches and news coverage about them affect consumers' interactions with the credit market and their use of credit. They find that some consumers directly exposed to the breach protected themselves against potential losses from future fraudulent use of stolen information by monitoring their files and freezing access to their credit reports. However, these consumers continued their regular use of existing credit cards and did not switch lenders. The response of consumers exposed to the news about the breach only was negligible.
Supersedes Working Paper 15-42.

January 2017

Conference Announcement and Call for Papers: New Perspectives on Consumer Behavior in Credit and Payments Markets

Conference dates: Thursday, September 7, and Friday, September 8, 2017
Submission deadline: June 15, 2017

The Payment Cards Center and the Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia are co-organizing their ninth biennial conference focusing on new research in consumer credit and payments.

The landscape of household finance and consumer payments is evolving rapidly, and this conference seeks to capture the latest research. We encourage researchers to submit theoretical and empirical studies that reflect the entire range of approaches and methodologies. We also encourage submissions that address the design and efficacy of regulations for consumer credit markets. Additional details are available here.

November 2016

Discussion Paper Released: The Secured Credit Card Market

In this paper, the author presents a brief exposition of the history of the secured credit card, beginning with its origins in California in the 1970s. He presents a series of stylized facts based on a December 2015 cross section of the secured card market. He finds that most secured cards require an annual fee, tend not to have promotional offers or rewards, and often have higher purchase annual percentage rates than their unsecured counterparts. The author also finds that the percentage of secured card accounts in a delinquency status is more than double that of unsecured cards and that far fewer secured cards are inactive compared with unsecured cards. In addition, the annual income of secured card consumers is about 43 percent lower than unsecured card consumers. Last, he examines how the credit scores of consumers opening a secured card account change during the first two years of account history. The author finds that keeping a secured card account open is correlated with improved creditworthiness, while closing an account, either in good standing or in default, is correlated with significantly reduced creditworthiness.

October 2016

Working Paper Released: Identity Theft as a Teachable Moment

This paper examines how a negative shock to the security of personal finances due to severe identity theft changes consumer credit behavior. Using a unique data set of linked consumer credit data and alerts indicating identity theft, the authors show that the immediate effects of fraud on consumers are typically negative, small, and transitory. After those immediate effects fade, identity theft victims experience persistent, positive changes in credit characteristics, including improved risk scores (indicating lower default risk). The authors argue that these changes are consistent with increased salience of credit file information to the consumer at the time of severe identity theft.
Supersedes Working Paper 14-28.

Working Paper Released: Does Keeping Up with the Joneses Cause Financial Distress? Evidence from Lottery Winners and Neighboring Bankruptcies

The authors provide new causal evidence that keeping up with the Joneses behavior causes financial distress by examining whether lottery prizes of random dollar magnitudes increase bankruptcy filings of very close neighbors of the winner. They find that a 1% increase in the lottery prize causes a 0.04% rise in subsequent bankruptcies among the winners’ close neighbors. The authors also provide evidence on conspicuous consumption as a mechanism for this causal relationship. The size of lottery prizes increases the value of visible assets (e.g., houses, cars) but not invisible assets (e.g., cash, financial assets), appearing on the bankruptcy balance sheets of neighboring bankruptcy filers.
Supersedes Working Paper 16-04.

  • Last update: March 21, 2017

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