Electronic payments now make up more than 75% of all non-cash payments. For the first time ever, debit card transactions have surpassed those made by check. Debit payments increased at a rate of 14.8% per year with nearly 38 billion debit transaction made annually.
On the other hand, check usage continued to decline. The Federal Reserve study found the number of checks paid decreased at a rate of 7.2% annually. However, there are still more than 27 billion checks written in the U.S. every year. It certainly does not appear that checks will completely disappear any time soon.
The type of check writing with the most substantial decline was checks written by consumers to businesses. While this type of check writing still makes up 44% of all checks written, C2B checks declined by more than five billion checks per year - or 10.6% annually.
This makes sense because more consumers are choosing to pay their bills online and use plastic payment methods at the point of purchase.
However, consumer to consumer check payments actually increased by 3% and business to business check writing only declined by 2%.
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While the use of electronic payments continues to grow. It is important to note the the use of credit cards actually declined modestly from 2006 to 2009.
Checks have also found a way to adapt to new technology. The electronic processing of checks has become much more common in the banking industry and has improved the efficiency of check clearing.
"Not only does this study show the continued move from checks to electronic means of making payments, but we also see the extraordinary progress the industry has made in electronifying the clearing process for the 27.5 billion checks still being written," stated Richard Oliver, vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
More information on the Federal Reserve's non-cash payment study can be found at http://www.federalreserve.gov/
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