Add-on goods, contingent services and product bundling: How behavioural economics has affected the regulation of overdraft and payment protection insurance markets

John Kevin Ashton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose: The study examines influence of behavioural economic theories of add-on goods and contingent charges on the regulation of two touchstone markets in the UK. These markets, the payment protection insurance (PPI) market and the market for overdrafts can both be characterised as add-on goods, have displayed excessive levels of profitability and been the focus of continuing and substantial public mis-trust. Despite these similarities, the regulatory treatment of these two markets has been very different. The purpose of this paper is to explore the context of these cases and examine why these differences in regulatory reporting have developed. Design/methodology/approach: The research questions are examined through a detailed review of the regulatory reporting in the UK PPI and overdraft market. This review of over 20 regulatory reports, numerous enforcement actions, associated legal proceedings and related international evidence is employed to determine commonalities and differences in the regulatory actions proposed, motives adopted and success of these regulatory processes. Findings: It is reported the dynamic and fragmented regulatory structure, multiple policy agendas and a successful legal intervention have all influenced how these financial services markets have been regulated and behavioural economic concepts applied. In particular aspects of overdraft markets remain challenging to address as it is still possible to exclude competition within aftermarkets. The regulatory intervention into PPI markets by contrast addressed concerns raised by add-on good theory and amended the form of distribution underlying this market more directly and successfully. Originality/value: There have been numerous excellent reviews of behavioural economics and finance published on a diversity of topics. Despite such a wide coverage, a relatively under-researched aspect of this literature remains the application of these relatively new theoretical insights within markets and how these have influenced regulatory practice. This review of regulatory reporting addresses this gap in the literature through considering two of the most problematic financial services markets of the last decade in the UK.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-113
Number of pages20
JournalReview of Behavioral Finance
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited.


  • Add-on goods
  • Contingent charges
  • Overdrafts
  • Payment protection insurance
  • Personal current accounts

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