'Tap and go' payments take hold among consumers

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Mobile wallet payments made through a smartphone tap-and-go process at a merchant terminal grew significantly at 1.3 billion transactions in the U.S. in 2015, compared to 0.3 billion in 2012.

That's an annual growth rate of 71.9% during the three-year time period compared in the Federal Reserve's 2016 payments study, which examined the latest data available. The annual study reports on the total number and value of non-cash payments made by consumers and businesses each year, with the 2016 report citing 2015 trends.

While mobile payment numbers grew, the Federal Reserve acknowledges that the alternative payment method falls into a category of non-cash payments that "do not collectively constitute a significant number of payments at the current time."
Online bill payment services, initiated through a depository institution or a biller's website or mobile app, grew slightly from 3.1 billion in 2012 to 3.2 billion in 2015. Most of these payments move through Automated Clearing House, but may also be settled through card networks or sometimes with a check, the report noted.

Person-to-person and money transfer payment services, as alternatives to checks or cash, had 0.4 billion transactions, and payments from private-label ACH debit cards at 0.2 billion in 2015, doubled from 2012 to 2015.

Payments using online payment authentication methods grew from 1.8 billion in 2012 to 3.4 billion in 2015. Growth is expected to continue, the Fed said, because remote payments are increasing and concerns about authenticating cardholders will persist.

The report also indicated that consumers wrote nearly two-thirds fewer checks per household in 2015 than in 2000, with the per-month total for 2000 at 19.3 and a total of 7.1 in 2015.

Businesses wrote 24.1 checks per month in 2015, compared to 66 per month in 2000. During that same time frame, ACH transfers by businesses rose to 29.8 per month from 13.4.

The value of ACH transfers and business checks written increased to $148.5 trillion in 2015, more than double the value of business and consumer ACH transfers and checks written in 2000, the report said.

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