2013 Federal Reserve Payments Study Charts Changing Methods

The 2013 Federal Reserve Payments Study was released in December and shows that card payments—credit and debit—account for more than two-thirds of all noncash payments, and the number of checks paid continued to decline.

Every three years, the Fed examines noncash payment trends in the United States. The 2013 study has been expanded to include new information related to various payment initiation methods and unauthorized payments. To provide perspective on consumer and business payment trends during the past decade, the results are compared with previous payment studies from 2004, 2007, and 2010.

Card payments growing, checks keep declining
The 2013 study's highlights include:

  • The total number of noncash payments, excluding wire transfers, was 122.8 billion, a growth rate of 4.4 percent annually from 2009 to 2012. Growth slowed slightly compared with the previous 10-year (2003–12) growth rate of 4.7 percent. The total value of noncash payments grew from $72.2 trillion in 2009 to just under $79 trillion in 2012.
  • The number of credit card payments, which had shown a decline in the 2010 study, grew at an annual rate of 7.6 percent from 2009 to 2012. Over the same period, debit card payments increased at a rate of 7.7 percent.
  • Automated clearinghouse (ACH) growth slowed to an average of 5.1 percent annually from 2009 to 2012, down from 10.9 percent a year during the previous 10 years. From 2009 to 2012, the number of ACH payments as a percentage of total payments increased less than 1 percent, and the value of ACH as a percentage of total noncash payments rose almost 10 percentage points, from 51.5 percent to 61.3 percent.
  • The number of checks paid continues to decline, falling to 18.3 billion, less than half the number a decade earlier (37.3 billion). Checks are increasingly being deposited as images, with 17 percent being deposited as an image at the bank of first deposit versus 13 percent as reported in the 2010 study.
  • The 2013 study estimates that there were 31.1 million unauthorized payment transactions in 2012, with a value of $6.1 billion.

January 7, 2014