Card payments account for more than two-thirds of all noncash payments in the U.S., and the number of checks written for payment is less than half of what is was a decade ago, according to the Federal Reserve Bank Services' 2013 payments study.
The study, which comes out every three years, examines noncash payment trends over the past decade, while comparing findings to studies in 2004, 2007 and 2010.
Americans made 122.8 billion noncash payments, excluding wire transfers, for a growth rate of 4.4 percent annually from 2009 to 2012, the report states. That rate was down slightly from the previous 10-year (2003 - 2012) growth rate of 4.7 percent. The total value of noncash payments grew from $72.2 trillion in 2009 to just under $79 trillion in 2012.
Credit card payments, which had shown a decline in the 2010 study, grew at an annual rate of 7.6 percent from 2009 to 2012. Debit card payments grew at a rate of 7.7 percent over that same period, the report states.
Automated Clearing House payment growth slowed to 5.1 percent annually from 2009 to 2012, down from the average annual growth of 10.9 percent over the previous 10 years.
From 2009 to 2012, the number of ACH payments as a percentage of total payments increased less than 1 percent while the value of ACH as a percentage of total noncash payments rose almost 10 percentage points, to 61.3 percent from 51.5 percent.
The number of checks paid continues to decline, falling to 18.3 billion, less than half of what it was a decade earlier at 37.3 billion, the report states.
Checks are increasingly being handled as images, with 17 percent being deposited as an image at the bank of first deposit versus 13 percent as reported in the 2010 study.
The current study estimates that Americans made 31.1 million unauthorized payment transactions in 2012, with a value of $6.1 billion.
"Payments industry participants in the study provided a robust response," Jim McKee, senior vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, states in a press release. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta sponsored the study.
The feedback allowed the Fed to review "a full range of traditionally collected information on the number and value of noncash payment types, as well as new data on payment initiation methods, third-party fraud and other relevant noncash payment factors."
The study was part of the Fed's commitment to collaborate with the industry to make payments more efficient, McKee says.