The Federal Reserve System has lowered its estimate of the number and value of cheques written by Americans in 2000, suggesting cheque use may have peaked in the mid-1990s.
A report published in the August edition of the Federal Reserve Bulletin compared the revised annual cheque volume of 42.5 billion in 2000 to previous estimates. Earlier Federal Reserve studies show that 49.5 billion cheques were paid in 1995 and 32.8 billion in 1979.
The report suggests that cheque use may have peaked during the mid-1990s, although the exact year of the peak is not known.
Cheque used as a percentage of retail non-cash payments, which includes credit card, debit card, automated clearing house payments and other electronic payments, declined from 85.7 per cent in 1979 to 77.1 percent in 1995 and again to 59.5 percent in 2000.
A retail payments research report issued in November 2001 estimated nearly 50 billion cheques, valued at $47.7 trillion, were paid in 2000. Further analysis since the release of the report has led to the correction of several data errors resulting in a revised estimate of 42.5 billion checks in 2000 valued at $39.3 trillion. Data on electronic payments and on the composition of the cheque market was unchanged.
The research report, which has now been corrected, reinforces the original finding that cheque writing in the United States is steadily giving way to electronic forms of payment.