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Executive Summary As the payments landscape evolves, cash remains a unique, resilient, and heavily used consumer payment instrument. Still, with new payment options and ways to shop, consumers are adapting how they view and use cash. Insights from the Diary, and other data sources, help the CPO understand the role that cash will play in the future.
This research helps the Federal Reserve Fed fulfill its objectives of maintaining confidence in U. When first conducted inthe Diary showed that cash was the most frequently used payment instrument and that cash use was prevalent across all demographic groups.
The key findings of the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice are similar and suggest that: Cash continues to be the most frequently used consumer payment instrument Cash is widely used in a variety of circumstances Cash dominates small-value transactions The average value of cash holdings has preliminary business report example The results also show that cash is facing competition from other payment instruments.
In32 percent of consumer transactions were made with cash, compared with 40 percent in Growing consumer comfort with payment cards and the growth of online commerce, among other factors, contribute to this trend. Nonetheless, a broad range of results suggests that cash remains resilient and continues to play a key and unique role for consumers.
The second section focuses on four findings about cash use from the Diary, outlined above. The final section explores three insights that the data give us on consumer payment preferences and practices.
High-level Trends Suggest Cash Use is Evolving Despite innovations in smartphone technology and mobile payment apps, Fed data on the amount of currency in circulation suggest that demand for cash is strong.
Figure 1 shows currency in circulation from January to August and includes notes held by merchants, financial institutions, and consumers.
The amount of currency in circulation has increased steadily over time, and demand for higher denominations has accelerated in the years since the financial crisis. Currency in Circulation This steady growth in cash demand contrasts with the moderation the Federal Reserve is seeing in its payments to and receipts from depository institutions Figure 2.
Fed payments and receipts grew modestly after the implementation of the Recirculation Policy and have declined slightly since Concurrently, the gap between payments and receipts has grown sincecontributing to the more rapid growth in currency in circulation over this period.
Annual Total Reserve Bank Payments and Receipts Taken together, these two perspectives suggest a potential change in how consumers, businesses, and financial institutions are using and handling cash. The moderation and slight decline in Fed receipts could mean, among other explanations, that consumers are using cash less frequently to pay for purchases.
At the same time, continued growth in currency in circulation may mean that, in a low-interest rate environment, consumers and merchants are comfortable holding more cash, possibly for contingency purposes. The Diary data offer more detailed insights into how consumers are using cash and how their behavior may contribute to the trends discussed above.
Cash is the most frequently used retail payment instrument Incash remained the most frequently used retail payment instrument, used in nearly one-third 32 percent of all transactions, including bill payments Figure 3. Consumers used debit cards for 27 percent of their transactions, followed by credit cards for 21 percent of transactions.
ACH transfers and online bill pay and checks comprised a small share of transaction volume, though the value of these payments tended to be higher than cash, debit, or credit payments. Consumer use of debit and credit cards increased two and four percentage points, respectively, and account for 48 percent of all reported transactions in the data.Full Report.
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