Average values of consumers’ and businesses’ ACH, check, and card payments increased substantially from 2018 to 2021, according to initial findings of the Federal Reserve’s 2022 triennial payments study, with ACH credited as the single-greatest driver of that growth.
The central bank, in a release Friday, said that data from the study show that consumers and businesses made more noncash payments, leading to a greater total value of noncash payments in the same time period. It said cards were used most frequently, accounting for 98% of the increase in the number of payment transactions. The increase in total value, however, was driven almost entirely by the increase in the value of ACH payments, the Fed said.
Some of the key findings include:
- The value of core noncash payments in the United States grew faster from 2018 to 2021 than in any previous Federal Reserve Payments Study (FRPS) measurement period since 2000. Having increased at a rate of 9.5% per year since 2018, noncash payments value reached $128.51 trillion in 2021.This rate of increase was more than twice the rate of increase in the previous three-year period.
- The increase in the value of ACH transfers accounted for more than 90% of the rise in noncash payments value from 2018 to 2021. By number and value, the rate of increase in ACH transfers accelerated to 8.3% per year and 12.7% per year, respectively, over the period. Since surpassing checks as the highest-value noncash payment method in 2009, ACH transfers have grown to $91.85 trillion, 72% of core noncash payments value in 2021.
- The average value of check payments rose substantially from 2018 to 2021. In this period, the value of check payments increased slightly (0.6% per year) despite a significant drop in the number of these payments. As a result, the average value of check payments increased from $1,908 in 2018 to $2,430 in 2021. Checks declined in number at a rate of 7.2% per year since 2018, dropping to 11.2 billion. In 2021, the value of check payments stood at $27.23 trillion – about 21% of noncash payments value.
- The value of card payments grew faster from 2018 to 2021 than in any previous FRPS measurement period. Rising 10.0 percent per year since 2018, card payments value reached $9.43 trillion in 2021, accounting for approximately 7% of noncash payments value in that year. Among the card types, prepaid debit card payments grew at the greatest rate by value since 2018, 20.6% per year, and reached $0.61 trillion in 2021, but remained a relatively small part (6.5%) of the value of all card payments.