Fed Survey: Noncash Payments Total $178 Trillion

More than 144 billion noncash payments — those made with debit or credit cards, ACH and checks — were made in the U.S. between 2012 and 2015, totaling nearly $178 trillion, the Federal Reserve reported today in its triennial payments study.

Debit cards saw the largest increase in number of transactions among the payment types surveyed, growing from 56.5 billion in 2012 to 69.5 billion in 2015. The total value of debit card transactions rose $0.46 trillion in that timeframe to total $2.56 trillion. Credit card payments also continued to grow, reaching 33.8 billion (an increase of 8 percent since 2012) with a total value of $3.16 trillion.

ACH payments continued to grow at an annual rate of 4.9 percent, while prepaid debit card growth slowed to an annual rate of 2.3 percent between 2012 and 2015. The number of check payments also continued to decline, falling at an annual rate of 4.4 percent. The study noted, however, that the rate of decline during this period was slower than in previous surveys.

The study also reflected the U.S.’ ongoing transition to chip card technology, which began in 2015. The number of general-purpose card payments made using chip cards increased to 1.5 billion in 2015, up from 41 million 2012, though that number reflects just 2 percent of all general-purpose payments made. The U.S. also continues to see comparatively higher rates of counterfeiting fraud (one of the fraud types that chip cards can help prevent) than in countries where chip cards have been in place for years, the study found.

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