How much do you know about the 2019 Federal Reserve Payments Study (FRPS)? The 2019 FRPS preliminary results will be available by the end of the year. In the meantime, we are featuring additional background on the effort, frequently asked questions and highlights from the last triennial study.

About the Federal Reserve Payments Study

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta sponsors the FRPS on behalf of the Federal Reserve System and partners with the Federal Reserve Board of Governors to conduct it. This ongoing effort helps to quantify aggregate payment volumes, payments fraud and related information in the United States, offering a periodic benchmark of developments in the U.S. payment system to policymakers, the industry and the public. The study reports the aggregate number and value of noncash payments and payments fraud made by U.S. consumers and businesses, including for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises and local, state and federal government agencies.

After the completion of the most recent triennial FRPS in 2016, which reported trends from 2012 to 2015, a smaller and more targeted annual supplementary data collection was launched to keep information current between the triennial studies.

Frequently asked questions

Q: Why should my depository institution participate?

A: The Federal Reserve selects a random sample of institutions to participate in the FRPS. Selected institutions should have received an invitation to participate via mail sometime in March. By participating, your institution can:

  • Help us reach full participation, which facilitates timely delivery of the best results
  • Ensure that your institution and institutions like yours are represented
  • Receive a peer report showing how your results compare to other institutions of similar type and size

The composition of payments in the United States has shown significant change each time the study is updated, and in the continually dynamic payments environment, this next study should be no different. … Although this survey is voluntary, we encourage your participation because it will help ensure the accuracy and robustness of our research findings, which will be shared broadly with participants, the industry and the public. We believe that this research will contribute significantly to both financial services industry and Federal Reserve efforts to foster an efficient and more secure payments infrastructure. Your participation is deeply appreciated.

Lael Brainard Governor
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Q: What payments data is available now?

A: Data and reports from FRPS efforts conducted from 2000 through 2017 are available on the Payment Research (Off-site) page on the Board of Governors website.

Q: Why do we conduct the Federal Reserve Payments Study?

A: Unbiased estimates of payments activity enable policymakers, the payments industry and the public to better understand payment trends and help to inform strategies that promote improvements in the payments infrastructure.

Q: What else is the Fed doing to examine payments?

A: Complementary efforts are under way to examine fraud, fraud prevention and fraud mitigation. They include:

  • The Strategies for Improving the U.S. Payments System (SIPS) Secure Payments strategy, through which the Fed is leading collaborative efforts with the industry to examine and mitigate payments fraud
  • Surveys by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis to collect qualitative data about the ways that financial institutions and merchants combat fraud
  • Surveys by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta that ask a nationally representative sample of consumers about their experience with payments fraud
  • Fraud information that debit-card issuers report under Regulation II

2016 Federal Reserve Payments Study highlights

  • From 2012 to 2015, credit and debit (including prepaid and non-prepaid) card payments continued to gain ground in the payments landscape, accounting for more than two-thirds of all core noncash payments in the United States. Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments grew modestly over the same period, and check payments declined at a slower rate than in the past.
  • From 2012 to 2015, check payments fell at an annual rate of 3.0% by number and grew at an annual rate of 2.2% by value.
  • As shown below, in 2015, consumers wrote 7.1 checks per household per month and made 45.0 debit card payments, 19.3 credit card payments and 7.1 ACH payments.
  • figure 1

  • In 2000, consumers wrote 19.3 checks per household per month and made 6.6 debit card payments, 12.4 credit card payments and 2.0 ACH payments. Thus, as shown below, over the 15-year period from 2000 to 2015, consumer checks per household per month declined by 12.2 checks (6.4% per year), ACH transfers grew by 5.1 (8.8% per year), credit card payments grew by 6.9 (3.0% per year), and debit card payments grew by 38.4 (13.7% per year).
  • figure 2

  • As shown below, the aggregate ranking in 2015 of the number of payments by payment type differed substantially between consumers and businesses. The top four consumer payment types were, in order, non-prepaid debit cards, general-purpose credit cards, checks and ACH debit transfers. In contrast, the top four business payment types were, in order, ACH credit transfers, checks, general-purpose credit cards and non-prepaid debit cards.
  • figure 3

Action Item:

For more information about the Federal Reserve Payments Study, including past results, visit the Payment Research (Off-site) page on the Board of Governors website.


Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Off-site)