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Fed to Begin Triennial Study on U.S. E-Payments Usage

  • By Andrew Deichler
  • Published: 2013-01-22

The Federal Reserve’s Retail Payments Office said last week that it intends to conduct a study to determine the current volume and composition of electronic payments in the U.S. The study has occurred every three years since 2001.

Jim McKee, RPO senior vice president, noted that while the Fed will build upon information gathered in previous studies, the new study “casts a broader net” across the changing payments landscape.  “The 2013 study will provide additional data on electronic payment methods, cash deposit and withdrawal information and, for the first time, limited third-party fraud information, in an effort to provide the industry with further insight on emerging trends,” he said.

The 2013 study will consist of three surveys that will attempt to gauge the annual number, dollar value and composition of retail noncash payments in the U.S. The combined data should provide aggregate estimates and trends in usage of payments instruments by consumers and businesses. Previous studies have confirmed the increase of electronic payments and the decline of checks. Results should be released in late 2013.

Claudia S. Swendseid, senior vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis told AFP that she fully expects the shift toward electronic payments to continue, with the overall number of transactions continuing to grow. “It is also worth noting that while checks begin life as paper, many checks are now electronically deposited and almost all checks are electronically processed once they enter the banking system,” she said. “Check usage will likely continue to drop but will remain an essential part of the payments system for many years to come.”

Swendseid added that she could not speculate on whether any significant trends in mobile payments will be revealed. However, she noted that the study will cover a variety of different categories of payment and initiation methods beyond the traditional categories of check, credit, debit, prepaid and ACH. “These include chip card payments, online P2P payments, EBT transactions and mobile payments.  So we should learn something useful about these types of payments,” she said.

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