For the first time, electronic payments have surpassed cash and cheques as the preferred payment method for US consumers when shopping on the high street, according to a nationwide study conducted by the American Bankers Association and Boston-based strategy consulting firm Dove Consulting.
The 2003/2004 study, conducted among 2008 US consumers, found that cash and cheques now account for 47% of in-store purchases, as compared to 57% in 1999 and 51% in 2001.
Much of the slack appears to be taken up by growth in debit cards, which now account for nearly one-in-three instore purchases, up from 21% four years ago.
While cash remains the single most frequently used payment method on the high street, its share of the transaction mix has fallen from 39% in 1999 to 32% in 2003. Checks also play a diminishing role at the point-of-sale, accounting for just 15% of purchases.
Comparatively, consumer use of credit cards for in-store purchases has remained relatively constant at 21%. At two percent, the "other" payments category is made up of prepaid cards.
The study finds cheque usage is also on the wane for bill payments, falling from 72% in 2001 to 60% today, with online bill payment gaining in popularity. The survey finds 41% of consumers currently use online bill payment to settle recurring bills.