Fed Survey: Noncash Payments Increase, Debit Most Popular with Consumers

Consumer noncash payments have increased significantly between 2000 and 2015, according to new data from the Federal Reserve today. The number of noncash transactions grew at a rate of 4.7 percent per year during that time, with total transaction values increasing from $75.87 trillion in 2000 to $177.85 trillion in 2015.

The study found that consumers are writing far fewer checks today than 15 years ago; checks accounted for just 13.4 percent of noncash payments, compared with 57.8 percent in 2000. As paper checks have decreased, consumers are reaching more frequently for their debit cards, with non-prepaid debit card purchases rising nearly 40 percent. In an average household in 2015, 45.5 payments were made on average with a debit card, 19.3 with a credit card and 7.1 checks were written.  The study also found that a majority of credit card accounts — 60.4 percent — carried over a balance month-to-month, while 39.6 percent were paid in full each month or had no current spending.

Alternate payment methods also grew in popularity in recent years. Transactions via mobile wallets were up 71.9 percent between 2012 and 2015, while online bill pay transactions increased modestly from 3.1 billion to 3.2 billion. Person-to-person payment transactions doubled in number, but remained low relative to the total number of transactions (P2P payments accounted for just 0.4 billion out of the 144.1 billion noncash transactions conducted in 2015).

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