December 9, 2010

Check Payments Decline, Electronic Payments Increase

A Federal Reserve report showed Wednesday that electronic payments have swelled in the United States to more than 75 percent of all non-cash payments as check usage continues to decline.

In the period studied -- 2006 to 2009 -- all types of US electronic payments grew, except for credit cards, the report said.

Wire transfers were not included in the tri-annual study, whose latest edition spans the worst US recession since the Great Depression and a worldwide financial meltdown after the Lehman Brothers were bankrupted in 2008.

Non-cash payments increased 4.6 percent per year during the study period, to 108.9 billion dollars in 2009.

More than three-quarters of all non-cash payments are electronic payments. "Payments by check are now less than one-quarter," reported the Fed.

The study found the number of electronic payments leaped 9.3 percent in 2009 from 2006 to more than 84 billion. The total value of those electronic payments: 40.7 trillion dollars.

In the previous study, from 2003 to 2006, roughly 66 percent of payments were made electronically in 2006.

The Federal Reserve study found that payments by check were the biggest decliner, dropping 7.3 percent to 24.4 billion payments, or 31.6 trillion dollars. And credit card usage also declined, but falling only 0.2 percent.

Debit cards, however, were the most used non-cash form of payment. They jumped 14.8 percent to 37.9 billion payments, or 1.5 trillion dollars.

"The results of the study clearly underscore this nation's efforts to move toward a more efficient electronic clearing system for all types of retail payments," Richard Oliver, vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, which sponsored the study, told AFP.

"It is also likely that the results reflect changing consumer behavior during difficult economic times," Oliver added.


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