The Federal Reserve published its Non-Cash Payment study, a tri-annual report on cash displacement.
Here are seven things you should know.
- Non-cash payments grew faster from 2018 to 2021 than any previous measurement period, at a growth rate of 9.5% per year, reaching $128.5 trillion. The growth rate was twice the prior period.
- The most growth was seen in the value of ACH transfers, which experienced accounted for 90% in value from 2018 to 2021. ACH transfers grew to $91.9 trillion.
- Checks increased in value from $1,908 to $2,430; the driving force of the average value was the decrease in smaller checks. Overall, all checks fell 7.2% to 11 billion items.
- Card payments grew by 10% per year and now account for 7% of non-cash payments. Prepaid cards grew faster by value, at 20.6% per year, though they represent only 6.5% of all card payments.
- Debit cards were the big winner in card payments, with non-prepaid debit cards accounting for 56% of all payments, clocking in at 51.1 billion items.
- ATM usage dropped 10.1% per year, though the average ATM withdrawal grew from $156 to $198 in 2021.
- The biggest loser is Private Label Cards, where debit transactions fell from 5.5 billion units in 2018 to 5.1 billion in 2021. Credit transactions fell from 3.8 billion units to 3.3 billion in the same period. 2.7 billion items in 2015. In dollars, the numbers moved downward by 0.02 and upward by 0.02, respectively.
Here are five takeaways.
- Clearances are accelerating in the U.S., as the ACH growth rate indicates. With FedNow on the horizon and RTP well established, it is evident that ACH and faster payments will complement quicker settlement in the U.S., as top tech provider ACI Worldwide indicates.
- Checks are slowing down but are far from dead. Similar to the U.S. sawbuck, businesses, and consumers will always want the ability to cut a good-old fashioned check in some cases.
- The decrease in ATM access is exciting and reflects on broader payment card acceptance, such as credit and debit. Who needs cash anyway?
- PLCC flounders as buy now, pay later matures. See our recent study, Private-Label Credit Cards; Still Relevant but Losing Luster.
The next update will be the 2025 version, in the Fed’s excellent study.
Overview byBrian Riley, Director of Credit /Co-Head of Payments at Javelin Strategy & Research.