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Finance and Economics Discussion Series logo links to FEDS home page Paper or Plastic? The Effect of Time on the Use of Check and Debit Cards at Grocery Stores
Elizabeth Klee

Abstract: Time is a significant cost of conducting transactions, and theoretical models predict that transactions costs significantly affect the type of media of exchange buyers use. However, there is little empirical work documenting the magnitude of this effect. This paper uses grocery store scanner data to examine how time affects consumer choices of checks and debit cards. On average, check transactions take thirty percent longer than debit card transactions. This time difference is a significant factor in the choice to use a debit card over a check and offers empirical evidence for transactions costs affecting the use of media of exchange.

Keywords: Payment systems, consumer behavior, checks, debit cards

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Last update: March 1, 2006