Fed: Noncash payment numbers exploded in recent years

The value of core noncash payments in the U.S. grew faster from 2018 to 2021 than at any time since the Federal Reserve began measuring the metric more than two decades ago, the agency said today. The Fed released initial data from its 2022 Federal Reserve Payments Study, which is conducted every three years. The value of noncash payments increased at a rate of 9.5% per year since 2018, reaching $128.51 trillion in 2021. The rate of increase was more than twice the rate in the previous three-year period and more than three times the rate from 2000 to 2018.

The increase in the value of automated clearing house transfers accounted for more than 90% of the rise in noncash payments value from 2018 to 2021, the Fed said. At the same time, the average value of check payments increased substantially despite a significant drop in the number of check payments. The average value of check payments increased from $1,908 in 2018 to $2,430 in 2021. But by number, checks declined at a rate of 7.2% per year.

The value of card payments grew fast, rising 10% per year since 2018 to reach a total annual value of $9.43 trillion in 2021, accounting for approximately 7% of noncash payments value that year. The number of non-prepaid debit card payments increased most of all card types, accounting for roughly 56% of all card payments in 2021. The number of ATM cash withdrawals dropped substantially at a rate of 10.1% per year.