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Federal Reserve Releases New 2013 Payments Study of U.S. Payment Trends

FedThe Federal Reserve has published the 2013 Federal Reserve Payments Study that 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 over the past decade, the results are compared to previous payment studies conducted in 2004, 2007, and 2010.

The 2013 study shows that card payments--credit and debit--now account for more than two-thirds of all noncash payments, while the number of checks paid continued to decline. Other 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. The rate of growth was down slightly from the previous 10 year (2003-2012) 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. Debit card payments grew at a rate of 7.7 percent over that same period.
  • Automated Clearing House (ACH) growth slowed to 5.1 percent annually from 2009 to 2012, down from the average annual growth of 10.9 percent over the previous 10 years. From 2009 to 2012, the number of ACH payments as a percentage of total payments increased less than 1 percent while 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.
The study was made possible by broad-based industry support and information sharing.

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