The US Federal Reserve is set to embark on a major study into the volume and composition of electronic and cheque payments as it bids to gain insight into a rapidly evolving landscape.
Carried out by the Fed's Retail Payments Office (RPO) every three years, the research consists of three surveys designed to estimate the annual number, dollar value and composition of retail non-cash payments in the United States.
Previous studies have revealed significant changes in the system over time, including a continuing decline in the use of cheques and growing uptake of electronic payments, such as automated clearinghouse, e-banking transactions and plastic cards.
The 2010 effort revealed that the number of noncash payments in the US increased 4.6% per year between 2006 and 2009. In 2009 more than three-quarters of all these non-cash payments were made electronically, with around 20 billion more e-payments made that year than in 2006, a 9.3% annual increase.
Jim McKee, SVP, RPO, says: "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."
The investigation comes at a time when the US payments industry is facing huge and rapid technological change, most notably through the rise of smartphones. A symposium hosted by the Chicago Fed late last year saw participants agree that, in the face of this upheaval, the industry should adopt a unified strategy and also called for greater international cooperation.