What else can your payment card do? Multifunctionality of payment modes can reduce payment transparency

Abstract

Payment modes (e.g., cash vs. credit card) vary in the transparency of the outflow of money. Smartcards (multifunctional cards), which bundle payment with non-payment functions (e.g., loyalty programs, identification, and other information functions), have become an increasingly popular payment mode. This shift toward multifunctionality in payment modes is assumed to reduce payment transparency and consequently to decrease consumers’ recall accuracy of past expenditures. We employ a field study to examine recall accuracy for recent purchases with cash, a single-function card, and a multifunctional card. We find that recall accuracy is lower when using a single- or a multifunction card than cash. We also find that it is not the multifunctionality of the card that results in a higher recall error but the individual usage patterns: A higher usage frequency of the non-payment functions results in a higher recall error.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Michael Blens, Marc Heise, Paula Risius, Leonie Schiedek, and Oliver Zabel for their help with data collection. We also thank Katherine Burson, Scott Rick, and the members of the research seminar in economic and social psychology of the University of Cologne for comments on previous versions of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Rufina Gafeeva.

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Gafeeva, R., Hoelzl, E. & Roschk, H. What else can your payment card do? Multifunctionality of payment modes can reduce payment transparency. Mark Lett 29, 61–72 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11002-017-9445-2

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Keywords

  • Money
  • Multifunctionality
  • Payment distinctiveness
  • Transparency
  • Recall error
  • Digital payment modes