nr 013 - Skewed Pricing in Two-Sided Markets: An IO approach

DNB Working Papers
Date 31 October 2004
In two-sided markets, one widely observes skewed pricing strategies, in which the price mark-up is much higher on one side of the market than the other. Using a simple model of two-sided markets, we show that, under constant elasticity of demand, skewed pricing is indeed profit maximizing. The most elastic side of the market is used to generate maximum demand by providing it with platform services at the lowest possible price. Through the positive network externality, full participation of the high-elasticity, lowprice side of the market increases market participation of the other side. As this side is less price elastic, the platform is able to extract high prices. Our skewed pricing result also carries over when analyzing the socially optimal prices. Interestingly, this leads to below-marginal cost pricing in the social optimum. We motivate the analysis by looking at the Dutch debit card system. Keywords: Two-sided markets, skewed pricing, corner solution, social optimum. JEL Code: G21, L10, L41