For the first time in the history of the Fed’s Noncash Payments Study, paper checks are no longer atop the payments pecking order.
Every three years, the Federal Reserve releases a study on noncash payment trends in the United States. December marked the release of their latest triennial study, covering the 2006 – 2009 timeframe, and the findings are more reaffirming than surprising: we’re quickly moving away from check payments (checks cleared as paper, substitutes, via electronic presentment, or via image exchange). In fact, if you combine the credit and debit card shares of the pie, checks are the only payment type that dropped off between the 2007 and 2010 studies. Their swift decline has opened the door for ACH, prepaid card, and debit card payments to fill the void.
Here are some highlights of the Fed’s 2010 study:
- The number of noncash payments totaled 108.9 billion in 2009 – a 4.6% increase from 2006
- With the checks share decreasing 7.2 percent between studies, electronic payments now account for over three quarters of all noncash payments
- Of electronic payment types, debit cards are leading the charge, accounting for 35% of all noncash payments
- The Fed reports that the shift can be attributed to technological innovations in the payments space that influenced the payment methods of businesses and consumers
- Prepaid card, debit card, and ACH payments experienced the biggest growth between studies, respectively, while credit card payments remained relatively flat
Again, these findings are not necessarily earth-shattering, but they do bring to light the speed at which the transition to electronic payments is taking place. As a consumer, are you willing to part ways with your personal checks for good? Are you in the habit of paying bills by browsing and clicking instead of “sealing and stamping?” Are the small business owners out there equipped to thrive in an electronic payments marketplace?
The noncash payments migration is well under way, and like with most things, the destination is electronic.
For more information, click here to download the Fed’s full 2010 noncash payments study.