Research

An efficient, effective, and safe U.S. and global payment and settlement system is vital to the U.S. economy. One way the Federal Reserve System can help promote payments system safety and soundness is by providing reliable quantitative information and research about technological innovations and other developments in the payments landscape.

For the most recent research, visit the Payment Research (Off-Site) page on the Board of Governors website.

2024 Research

2024 Findings from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice

The 2024 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice revealed consumers made more payments in 2023 than in previous years, continuing the trend of rising payment transactions since 2020. The findings show amid increased payments, cash’s share decreased in favor of credit and debit cards, but overall cash use has remained stable as consumers continued to hold more cash than they did before 2020 as both a store-of-value (up 53%) and in their pockets, purses or wallets as a backup payment instrument (up 23%). These are some of the prominent findings from the most recent consumer survey conducted by Federal Reserve Financial Services.

Findings from Faster Payments Survey of U.S. Consumers (Off-site)

U.S. consumers are increasingly opting for the speed, flexibility and 24x7x365 convenience of digital and faster payment options to pay for goods and services in person and online, pay friends and family, and transfer money between accounts. Our survey reveals that U.S. consumers’ use of digital wallets, such as those popularized by non-bank technology or fintech providers, surged 32% in 2023 from the prior year. Consistent with the 2022 survey, about three-quarters of consumers (74%) used a faster payment service in the past 12 months and 57% expect to use faster payment options more extensively in the future. These are some of the key findings from the most recent consumer survey conducted by Federal Reserve Financial Services.

Findings from Faster Payments Survey of U.S. Businesses (Off-site)

U.S. businesses are rapidly adopting digital, faster and instant payment services to improve customer experience and engagement, as well as their own efficiency. In 2023, use of digital wallets, many leveraging embedded payment platforms, grew 31% year over year to 62%, driven by large businesses and the service industry. Additionally, 86% of businesses said they used faster or instant payments in the past 12 months, and 74% reported looking to their financial institution to provide these services. These are some of the key findings from the most recent business survey conducted by Federal Reserve Financial Services.

2023 Research

Key Findings from the annual Federal Reserve Financial Services Financial Institution Risk Officer Survey (2023) (PDF)

FRFS provides a number of tools to support institutions in supplementing their internal tools to further help identify and/or mitigate payments risk. This annual survey was conducted by FRFS, a collaboration of the twelve Federal Reserve Banks, and went to senior risk experts at institutions using FRFS services. FRFS provides payment services to financial institutions, such as cash, check, ACH, funds transfer and instant payments. The survey findings reveal that in 2023, like 2022, external fraud remained the top operational risk. Survey responders cited concerns with increased fraud with check, card and non-bank apps, as well as increasing mule activity. These are two of the key findings from this 2023 survey. Read the report to learn more details about the survey results.

2023 Findings from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice

The 2023 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice finds that 2020’s shift away from cash and toward credit card payments has continued. Consumers continued to reach for credit cards at a higher rate in 2022. Their use of on-line payments also remained elevated as compared to pre-pandemic payment habits. By contrast, consumer use of debit cards and cash held steady at 2020 levels. These are some of the prominent findings from the 2023 consumer survey conducted by Federal Reserve Financial Services.

2022 Research

Key Findings from the annual Federal Reserve Financial Services Financial Institution Risk Officer Survey (2022) (PDF)

FRFS provides a number of tools to support institutions in supplementing their internal tools to further help identify and/or mitigate payments risk. This annual survey was conducted by FRFS, a collaboration of the twelve Federal Reserve Banks, and went to senior risk experts at institutions using FRFS services. FRFS provides payment services to financial institutions, such as cash, check, ACH, funds transfer and instant payments. In 2022, external fraud risk emerged as a key concern rising above cybersecurity, which the survey identified as the top operational risk in 2021. Institutions also reported external business and political environments as significant risk factors. Detailed questions associated with the FraudClassiferSM Model were also included for the first time to help institutions classify drivers of fraud more consistently across payment types and across institutions to track trends over time.

Federal Reserve releases data on noncash payments in 2021

The Federal Reserve Payments Study has released data about noncash payments in the United States for 2021.

The report and data will be available on the web pages of the Federal Reserve Payments Study (FRPS) (Off-site).

The 2022 Initial Data Release includes new information about core noncash payments: cards, ACH, and check payments as well as ATM cash withdrawals in calendar year 2021.

  • The value of core noncash payments in the United States grew faster from 2018 to 2021 than in any previous FRPS measurement period since 2000.
  • The increase in the value of ACH transfers accounted for more than 90 percent of the rise in noncash payments value from 2018 to 2021.
  • The average value of check payments increased substantially to $2,430 in 2021.
  • The value of card payments grew faster from 2018 to 2021 than in any previous FRPS measurement period.
  • The number of core noncash payments grew by more from 2018 to 2021 than in any previous FRPS measurement period since 2000.
  • The increase in the number of card payments accounted for more than 84 percent of the growth in the number of noncash payments from 2018 to 2021.
  • The number of non-prepaid debit card payments increased most of all card types.
  • The number of ATM cash withdrawals dropped substantially from 2018 to 2021.

Go to the Federal Reserve’s website (Off-site) to learn detail about these findings and download data.

Check Relevance Sustains Issues Facing the Industry

This paper is intended for informational and educational purposes only, and the views expressed herein are solely those of the authors and does not reflect those of The Clearing House Payments Company LLC, which operates ECCHO, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, any other Reserve Bank, or the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Payment industry leaders and professionals, regardless of segment or service focus, have a broad strategic interest in ensuring the overall and ongoing efficiency, safety, and soundness of the payments system across all payment types, including check, even as these volumes decline. Importantly, check continues into its fourth century and is expected to remain relevant to U.S. commerce for years to come. Despite continuing predictions of demise, check payments persist as they have attributes users find beneficial in certain use cases, such as medical/insurance payments and reimbursements, collect on delivery (COD) scenarios, certain payments to schools and small businesses, charitable contributions, and others.

May 2022

2021 Research

Key Findings from the annual Federal Reserve Financial Services Financial Institution Risk Officer Survey (2021) (PDF)

FRFS provides a number of tools to support institutions in supplementing their internal tools to further help identify and/or mitigate payments risk. This annual survey was conducted by FRFS, a collaboration of the twelve Federal Reserve Banks, and went to senior risk experts at institutions using FRFS services. FRFS provides payment services to financial institutions, such as cash, check, ACH, funds transfer and instant payments.

2020 Research

Developments in Noncash Payments for 2019 and 2020: Findings from the Federal Reserve Payments Study

The Federal Reserve Payments Study (FRPS) collects data to document trends and developments in U.S. payments. This brief is the first report since the detailed release of 2018 data. It provides new findings for 2019 and 2020, the latter year reflecting effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic, on payments processed over general-purpose credit and debit card networks, including non-prepaid and prepaid debit card networks; the automated clearinghouse (ACH) transfer system; and the check clearing system.

Key Findings:

  • While data from 2019 largely shows a continuation of past payment trends, with card and ACH both gaining share at the expense of check, payment behavior changed sharply in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic, with ACH gaining substantially as a share of noncash payments by both number and value.
  • The share estimates combined with other information imply that ACH was the only one of the three core payment systems to grow by number in 2020.
  • The total number of card payments declined in 2020, driven by a marked decline of in-person card payments. This was the first annual decline in the number of card payments recorded by the FRPS.
  • As in-person card payments dropped in spring 2020, remote card payments took up much of the slack; later in the year, in-person card payments recovered somewhat.
  • The pandemic may have helped to spur growth of innovative payment methods, such as in-person contactless card, digital wallet, and P2P payments.
    • First-time use of bank-sponsored P2P payments spiked in the second quarter of 2020, a time of business closures and stay-at-home orders.
    • First-time use of digital wallets was highest in the third quarter, when some restrictions on in-person shopping were lifted. When used with a mobile device, a digital wallet provides a low-touch option for in-person card payments.

December 2021

For the full report, including charts and data tables, visit the Payment Research (Off-Site) page on the Board of Governors website.

2019 Research

The 2019 Federal Reserve Payments Study Detailed Data Release

The Federal Reserve Board has published detailed noncash payments data from the 2019 Federal Reserve Payments Study (FRPS). The additional data, estimated from surveys covering 2012 through 2018, supplements the noncash payments overview provided by the top-line data released in December 2019.

The FRPS Detailed Data Release includes new information about core noncash payments and some evolving areas of payments in the United States:

  • The estimated number and value of checks for 2018 are revised to 14.0 billion and $26.8 trillion, respectively. As a result, the estimated decline in the number of checks from 2015 to 2018 is revised to 8.2 percent per year, steeper than the previously reported 7.2 percent per year decline. The estimated decline in the value of checks is revised to 2.8 percent per year, less steep than the previously reported 4.0 percent per year decline.
  • Use of alternative payment methods and services continues to grow. For example, according to estimates from processors, the number of payments via person-to-person and money transfer services more than doubled from 2015 to 2018.
  • Wire transfers originated by consumers grew at double-digit rates by both number and value from 2012 through 2018.

October 2020

For the full report, including charts and data tables, visit the Payment Research (Off-Site) page on the Board of Governors website.

2019 Federal Reserve Payments Study

The 2019 Federal Reserve Payments Study (2019 study) is the seventh in a series of triennial studies conducted by the Federal Reserve System since 2001 to estimate aggregate trends in noncash payments in the United States.

Key findings:

  • The number of ACH credit and debit transfers grew by 6.0 percent per year between 2015 and 2018, exceeding the 4.9 percent per-year growth rate recorded for 2012 to 2015.
  • Debit and credit card payments grew at an accelerated rate of 8.9 percent per year between 2015 and 2018, up from the 6.8 percent yearly rate of increase from 2012 to 2015.
  • For general-purpose cards overall, the value of remote payments in 2018 nearly equaled that of in-person payments.
  • More than half of in-person general-purpose card payments were chip authenticated, up from 2.0 percent in 2015.
  • Payments made by check fell 7.2 percent per year from 2015 to 2018.

December 2019

For the full report, including charts and data tables, visit the Payment Research (Off-Site) page on the Board of Governors website.

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2018 Research

Federal Reserve Payments Study 2018 Annual Supplement

This Federal Reserve Payments Study (FRPS) brief updates data on core noncash payment types and systems that support everyday payments by U.S. consumers and businesses.

Among the important findings:

  • Card payments continued to show robust growth from 2016 to 2017, collectively increasing 10.1 percent by number and 8.4 percent by value.
  • Remote payments continued to grow as a share of total general-purpose card payments.
  • Chip-authenticated payments accounted for more than half of the value of in-person general-purpose card payments in 2017.
  • Network automated clearinghouse (ACH) payments exhibited accelerating growth, increasing 5.7 percent by number and 6.9 percent by value from 2016 to 2017.
  • Large-institution check payments showed an accelerated decline of 4.8 percent by number from 2016 to 2017.

December 2018

For the full report, including charts and data tables, visit the Payment Research (Off-Site) page on the Board of Governors website.

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2017 Research

Changes in U.S. Payments Fraud from 2012 to 2016: Evidence from the Federal Reserve Payments Study

This report details the cost and number of fraudulent payments in the U.S.

Among the important findings:

  1. Noncash payments fraud (comprised of card, ACH, and check fraud) rose to $8.34 billion in 2015.
  2. Generally payments fraud was a small fraction of the value of all payments, less than fifty cents per $10,000 in noncash payments in 2012 and 2015.
  3. As a percentage share of all payments by both dollar value and number of payments, however, payments fraud is increasing.
  4. Also in 2012 and 2015, most payments fraud is by card.
  5. From 2015 to 2016, in-person card fraud declined and remote card fraud increased.

October 2018

For the full report, including charts and data tables, visit the Payment Research (Off-Site) page on the Board of Governors website.

Federal Reserve Payments Study 2017 Annual Supplement

After the completion of the most recent triennial Study in 2016, a smaller and more targeted data collection effort was established to produce annual trending information. This initial data release contains the results of the inaugural Federal Reserve Payments Study 2017 Annual Supplement. Results presented in this report are based on survey data gathered from depository and financial institutions, general-purpose card networks and processors, and issuers of various private-label payment instruments. The 2017 Supplement collected the number and value of payments that were initiated in calendar year 2016 from consumer and business accounts domiciled in the U.S. Moving forward, annual supplements are planned for each intervening year between triennial study releases. While these annual supplements will not be as comprehensive as the triennial Study, they should smooth the top-line trending information and provide more current information between the triennial Study release years.

December 2017

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2016 Research

2016 Federal Reserve Payments Study

The 2016 Federal Reserve Payments Study is the sixth in a series of triennial studies conducted by the Federal Reserve System to determine the aggregate volume and composition of electronic and check payments in the United States. This study provides the public and the payments industry with estimates and trend information about the evolving nature of the nation’s payments system. The study requested full-year 2015 payments data for various payment types from respondents to two of the three survey components; the third component involves a random sampling of checks processed in 2015 to determine distribution of party, counterparty and purpose. As with the 2013 Study, the 2016 Study was further expanded to survey and estimate additional activities related to payment volumes that may help the industry and the public better understand payments system trends.

June 2017

December 2016

Note: Results contained in the December 2016 and June 2017 data release reports and data tables for the 2016 Federal Reserve Payments Study have been updated as of December 21, 2017, to reflect revised estimates.

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2013 Research

2013 Federal Reserve Payments Study

The 2013 Federal Reserve Payments Study is the fifth of a series of triennial studies conducted by the Federal Reserve System to comprehensively estimate and study aggregate trends in noncash payments in the United States. This study reports the total number and value of all noncash payments estimated to have been made in 2012 by consumers and businesses, including for-profit and nonprofit enterprises, and federal, state, and local government agencies. These payments included those initiated from accounts domiciled in the United States and typically involved the use of debit, prepaid and credit cards, automated clearinghouse (ACH) or checks. The 2013 Study marks an expanded effort to survey and estimate additional activities related to payment volumes that may help to better understand payments system trends.

Read the announcement (PDF) of this important study or take a moment to review the findings from our research listed below:

Note: The 2013 Federal Reserve Payments Study Summary Report released on December 19, 2013, has been updated as of July 24, 2014, to reflect revised estimates.

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2010 Research

2010 Federal Reserve Payments Study

The 2010 Federal Reserve Payments Study is the fourth of a series of triennial studies conducted by the Federal Reserve System to comprehensively estimate and study aggregate trends in noncash payments in the United States. This study estimates the total number and value of payments that were made in 2009 by check, debit card, credit card, automated clearinghouse (ACH), and prepaid card from accounts domiciled in the United States. The study also estimates the number and value of ATM withdrawals.

Read the announcements (PDF) of this important study or take a moment to review the findings from our research listed below:

Note: The 2010 Federal Reserve Payments Study Summary Report released on December 8, 2010, has been updated as of April 5, 2011, to reflect revised estimates.

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2007 Research

2007 Federal Reserve Payments Study

The 2007 Federal Reserve Payments Study is part of an ongoing effort by the Federal Reserve System to measure and analyze trends in noncash payments in the United States. It consists of three individual studies: the Check Sample Study (2007 CS study), the Depository Institutions Payments Study (2007 DI study), and the Electronic Payments Study (2007 EP study).

Read the announcements (PDF) of this important study or take a moment to review the findings from our research listed below:

Note: The summary report references the DI and EP studies only. Estimates in the DI study detailed report may differ from those in the summary report or EP study detailed report. The differences are due to differences in the reference periods, methodologies, or, in some cases, minor revisions to preliminary estimates.

May 2008 Revision: Exhibit 4: Response Rate per Stratum, page 26, has been replaced.

2007 Federal Reserve Study Shows That More Than Two-Thirds of Noncash Payments Are Now Electronic

Read the announcement (PDF) of this important study or take a moment to review the summary findings from our Retail Payments Research listed below:

2007 Federal Reserve Payments Study - Summary Report (PDF)

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2006 Research

Opportunities for Growth in Wire Payments

The Federal Reserve Banks and The Clearing House conducted a joint research study entitled "Business to Business Wire Transfer Payments: Customer Preferences and Opportunities for Financial Institutions". The study offers an in-depth view of the issues facing organizations that routinely make wire transfer payments and focuses on the motivations driving payment decisions as well as potential opportunities for achieving growth in wire payments.

For more information, please see the study findings (PDF).

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2001 - 2004 Research

2004 Federal Reserve Studies Confirm Electronic Payments Exceed Check Payments for the First Time

Retail Services leads the way in the transition from the current paper-based U.S. retail payment system toward a predominantly electronic system.

Read the announcement of this important study (PDF) or take a moment to review the detailed findings from our Retail Payments Research listed below:

2002 Community Bank Study

The primary purpose of this study is to examine the business strategies that community banks are undertaking to remain viable in a changing banking environment, identify what community banks require from the payments mechanism to survive in this environment, and suggest how the Federal Reserve might contribute to meeting those needs.

For more information, please see the study findings (PDF).

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