The Federal Reserve’s 2007 study of noncash payments has revealed that in 2006 more than two-thirds of all U.S. noncash payments were made electronically. From 2003 to 2006, the period covered by the study, all types of electronic payments grew while check payments decreased. The Federal Reserve’s 2004 Payments Study found that the number of electronic payments and check payments were roughly equal in 2003.
About 19 billion more electronic payments were made in 2006 than in 2003. In contrast, the number of checks paid fell by about 7 billion over the same period. Of the 93 billion noncash payments in 2006, about 63 billion were electronic and around 30 billion were checks.
Among the three main types of electronic payments, the annual use of debit cards increased by about 10 billion payments over the survey period to 25.3 billion payments in 2006. Debit cards now surpass credit cards as the most frequently used electronic payment type.
Over the same period, automated clearinghouse (ACH) payments grew to 14.6 billion, an increase of almost 6 billion payments. Credit cards grew by almost 3 billion payments to 21.7 billion in 2006.The highest rate of growth from 2003 to 2006 was in ACH payments, which grew about 19 percent per year, followed closely by debit card payments at almost 18 percent.
Checks declined by an average of 6.4 percent per year since 2003, indicating the pace at which check payments has been decreasing since the mid-1990s has picked up in recent years. One of the most significant changes of the past three years has been the increasing proportion of checks processed electronically. Such changes have improved the efficiency of the check clearing system for interbank checks.
See the Board's press release for full details.