Morning Brief 12.27.19: ACH overtakes checks

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ACH debit payments surpassed checks for the first time last year, according to a new Federal Reserve payments study. Total U.S. ACH debit transfers reached 16.6 billion in 2018, compared with 14.5 billion checks as more people used electronic channels for purchases and bill payments.

Checks’ share of payments fell to just 8% of all noncash payments in 2018, versus 59% in 2000, based on data from the Federal Reserve Payments Study released last week. But as checks grow scarcer, the average check amount is rising. In 2018, the average check value was $1,779, versus $945 in 2000, the report said.

As digital payments surge in all categories, the total value of card-not-present payments is now about equal to in-person card payments at about $3.3 trillion, propelled by higher card use for e-commerce and recurring bill payments. But face-to-face card payments — while smaller in value — still far outnumber online payments, at 86 billion and 33.5 billion, respectively, the Fed said.

Clicks over bricks

Brisk e-commerce activity helped push global holiday retail sales up 3.4% over last year, with online apparel sales outperforming all other merchandise categories, Mastercard said. E-commerce sales alone rose 19% over last year, and apparel sold online rose 17% compared with 2018.

Department stores around the world didn’t fare so well.

Overall department store sales declined 1.8%, though the category’s sales through e-commerce channels rose 6.9% compared to last year, emphasizing the shift to omnichannel distribution. Mastercard’s SpendingPulse data measured total global sales from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24.

Reaching Egypt

HyperPay, a Saudi Arabian payment processing company, has secured fresh funding to expand its operations in the Gulf region through an investment round led by Mad’a Investment Co., based near HyperPay’s Rayadh headquarters, and Saudi Venture Capital Company.

HyperPay, founded in 2014, plans to use the funds to expand its services across Egypt and the Gulf region.

From the Web

Americans’ near-record levels of credit card debt help bolster banking industry
THE WASHINGTON POST | Thu December 26, 2019
Americans have accumulated near-record levels of credit card debt over the past year as card companies have increased interest rates and fees.

Self-Checkout in France Sets Off Battle Over a Day of Rest
THE NEW YORK TIMES | Thu December 26, 2019
French labor rules prohibit most shops from employing workers past 1 p.m. on Sundays. But as e-commerce and online giants like Amazon usher in an era of round-the-clock spending, retailers are amping up the use of automated cashiers to help them compete.

Wawa Hit With Class-Action Lawsuit After Data Breach
NBC | Fri December 27, 2019
A group of Wawa customers has filed a class-action lawsuit against the company a week after the chain revealed that a data breach potentially exposed people’s credit and debit card information at hundreds of its locations.

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