Released October 2020

Sources

The Federal Reserve Payments Study (FRPS) produces national estimates of the number and value of noncash payments. The information presented in the detailed tables is based on survey data collected via the Depository and Financial Institutions Payments Survey (DFIPS) and the Networks, Processors, and Issuers Payments Surveys (NPIPS), and is supplemented by other information collected by the Federal Reserve:

DFIPS—For 2018, surveys were sent to a nationally representative, stratified random sample of 3,800 depository institutions (DIs), comprising commercial banks, savings institutions, and credit unions. Surveys were returned by 1,382 DIs. Estimates for the full population of DIs were based on separate estimates constructed for each size and institution-type stratum.

NPIPS—For 2018, surveys were sent to 143 of the applicable payment organizations, comprising a census of known processors for each category of payments. Surveys were returned by 112 payment organizations. Estimates for each payment type were based on constructing a complete census of reported or estimated data for relevant organizations and adding up the totals.

Other information—Data from Federal Reserve internal files and in the public domain were used to augment the survey data.

The FRPS website contains further information on the study, including the reports, survey instruments, and glossaries.

Important Data Considerations

  • Revised data in this release supersede previously published data.
  • Differences evident in like-named data from DFIPS and NPIPS, such as GP card payment volumes, are due to a variety of reasons, including reporting errors, sampling and estimation errors, differing survey definitions, as well as the differing information sets and data tracking capabilities of the participating institutions.
  • General-purpose (GP) card payments from DFIPS are restated for 2012, 2015, and 2018. For convenience and simplicity, top-line GP credit, non-prepaid debit, and GP prepaid debit card payments estimates from DFIPS in past publications were set equal to the NPIPS estimates, and the subcategories were adjusted proportionally. In the current release, there are no adjustments to create equivalence between NPIPS and DFIPS estimates.
  • Estimates for automated clearinghouse (ACH) transfers include those based on operator data collected in NPIPS and those estimated directly from the DFIPS survey data.

Contact

For questions or comments, or to be added to the FRPS mailing list, please contact: frpaymentsstudy@frb.gov.

Data tables

General information

Scope
  • Unless specified, FRPS volumes include all noncash payments from accounts domiciled in the United States, including cross-border payments from those accounts.
  • Some specific items—cross-border payments to U.S. payees from non-U.S. payers—cover cross-border payments from foreign accounts made in the United States.
  • Some card payment totals include transactions involving cash (such as a cash-back transaction from a debit card, or a cash-advance transaction from a credit card).
  • Volumes are defined to include all payments made by consumers and businesses, including for-profit and non-profit enterprises and federal, state, and local government agencies.
Time period
  • NPIPS and DFIPS data reported in this release are based on estimates from the triennial surveys for 2012, 2015, and 2018. Some NPIPS data—namely general-purpose (GP), private-label (PL), and electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card payments—include estimates from the annual supplemental surveys for 2016 and 2017.
Metrics
  • Number of accounts, value of account balances, number of cards (Accounts and Cards table)
  • Number of payments, value of payments, average value of payments
  • Rates of change, calculated as compound annual growth rates (CAGRs)

Table 1. Accounts and Cards

Description Transaction deposit accounts, sweep program accounts, and general-purpose cards and accounts at depository institutions
Contents
  • Transaction deposit accounts
  • Retail and wholesale sweep program accounts
  • GP prepaid debit card program accounts
  • GP credit card accounts
  • Non-prepaid debit cards
  • GP prepaid debit cards
  • GP credit cards
Allocations
  • Transaction deposit accounts
    • Type of accountholder: consumer and business
  • Retail and wholesale sweep program accounts
    • Type of accountholder: consumer and business
  • GP prepaid debit card accounts
    • Type of card program: reloadable and non-reloadable
  • GP credit card accounts
    • Type of accountholder: consumer and business
    • Consumer accounts with current balances only
      • Zero and non-zero balances
    • Consumer accounts with revolving balances
      • Revolving only and both current and revolving
  • Non-prepaid debit, GP prepaid debit, and GP credit card counts:
    • Cards in force and cards with purchase activity
      • Consumer and business
Notes
  • Details on consumer GP credit card balances help to distinguish consumer use of credit cards for payment from use for borrowing purposes.
Sources DFIPS

Table 2. Checks

Description Checks paid, checks written, checks deposited, and outgoing checks returned
Contents
  • Checks paid
  • Checks written
    • Checks converted to ACH payments
  • Checks deposited
  • Outgoing checks returned
Allocations
  • Checks paid
    • Check type: U.S. treasury checks, postal money orders, and commercial checks
    • Clearing method: interbank and on-us
  • Commercial checks paid
    • Payer type: consumer and business
    • Clearing method: interbank and on-us
    • Interbank clearing method: inclearings and on-us correspondent
Notes
  • Commercial checks include checks paid by both consumers and businesses. Commercial checks do not include U.S. treasury checks and postal money orders.
  • Checks written is the sum of all checks paid plus checks that were created by the payer but converted to an ACH transfer. Checks that are converted become the “source document” for the ACH transfer.
  • Because of correspondent banking arrangements, estimates of checks deposited include some double-counting.
Sources DFIPS, Federal Reserve check processing data

Table 3. ACH Transfers

Description ACH credit and debit transfers and ACH outgoing debit returns
Contents
  • Transfers by clearing method (DFIPS & NPIPS)
  • Network transfers by payer type (NPIPS)
  • Credit transfers (DFIPS)
  • Debit transfers (DFIPS)
  • Outgoing debit transfers returned (DFIPS)
Allocations
  • Transfers by clearing method (DFIPS & NPIPS)
    • Credit and debit
    • Network
      • Credit and debit
    • On-us
      • Credit and debit
  • Network transfers by payer type (NPIPS)
    • U.S. treasury
      • Credit and debit
    • Non-U.S. treasury
      • Credit and debit
  • Credit transfers (DFIPS)
    • Clearing method: network and on-us
    • Payer type: consumer and business
    • Settlement timing: same-day and non-same-day
  • Debit transfers (DFIPS)
    • Clearing method: network and on-us
    • Payer type: consumer and business
    • Settlement timing: same-day and non-same-day
Notes
  • As noted above, two groups of ACH estimates are reported:
    1. DFIPS & NPIPS: Data from DFIPS is used to calculate the ratio of total transfers and on-us transfers (in-house on-us) to network transfers (sent to ACH operators). Data provided by ACH operators is used to estimate interbank ACH transfers, and the ratio is applied to the operator volumes to produce stabilized estimates of on-us ACH.
    2. DFIPS: DFIPS estimates.
  • DFIPS: Questions and definitions in the DFIPS ACH section have changed from survey to survey to try to deal with mismatches between the information desired and information available to some respondents. These variations have resulted in some inconsistencies between the estimates reported in the tables from year to year.
  • DFIPS: Some on-us ACH payments that are sent to an ACH operator are sent to the same institution for payment. The DFIPS survey asks respondents to allocate ACH transfers between on-us transfers that are processed in house and those that are sent to an operator (called network ACH payments, including those on-us payments that are not retained and processed in house).
  • DFIPS: A negligible number of ACH payments are cleared and settled bilaterally between two depository institutions through a process called direct exchange. Direct exchange transactions are included in the DFIPS network estimates.
  • DFIPS & NPIPS: Total and on-us ACH transfers by clearing method reported in the tables are derived using the ratio of DFIPS on-us to NPIPS network transfers. An average of the ratios calculated from 2012, 2015, and 2018 is used to provide stability across the years.
Sources DFIPS, NPIPS

Table 4. Wire Transfers

Description Wire transfers sent over large-value funds transfer systems
Contents
  • Wire transfers originated
  • Wire transfers received
Allocations
  • Wire transfers originated
    • Payer type: consumer and business
    • Payee location: domestic and cross-border
    • Clearing method: interbank and book transfer
  • Business wire transfers originated
    • Type of business: settlement/bank business and other business
Notes  
Sources DFIPS

Table 5. GP Card Payments

Description Sum of data available for all three of the general-purpose card types, including non-prepaid debit, general-purpose prepaid debit, and general-purpose credit
Contents
  • Payments with U.S. cards
  • Payments via digital wallet
  • Adjustments and returns
  • Denials
  • Cross-border payments to U.S. payees with non-U.S. cards
Allocations
  • Channel: in person and remote
  • In person channel:
    • Authentication method: chip and no chip
    • Chip authentication method: contact and contactless
    • PIN and no PIN
  • Remote channel:
    • Mail-order/telephone-order, internet purchase, recurring/installment and other
    • Payee location: domestic and cross-border
  • Payee location: domestic and cross-border
  • Transaction value range
  • Payments via digital wallet
    • Channel: in person and remote
  • Adjustments and returns
    • Chargebacks and other
Notes Chip-authenticated payments include both those that use the EMV specification and those that do not. Chip-authenticated payments can be made with debit or credit cards or tokens that contain computer microchips or with digital wallets on mobile devices.
Sources DFIPS, NPIPS

Table 6. Non-prepaid Debit Card Payments

Description Non-prepaid debit card transactions
Contents
  • Payments with U.S. cards
  • Payments via digital wallet
  • Cash-back at the point of sale
  • Adjustments and returns
  • Denials
  • Cross-border payments to U.S. payees with non-U.S. cards
Allocations In addition to allocations for GP card payments (above):
  • Payer type: consumer and business
Notes Although the term “general-purpose” is dropped when referring to these cards, non-prepaid debit cards are the type of general-purpose debit cards associated with transaction or traditional “checking” accounts.
Sources DFIPS, NPIPS

Table 7. GP Prepaid Debit Card Payments

Description General-purpose prepaid debit card transactions
Contents
  • Payments with U.S. cards
  • Payments via digital wallet
  • Cash-back at the point of sale
  • Adjustments and returns
  • Denials
  • Cross-border payments to U.S. payees with non-U.S. cards
Allocations In addition to allocations for GP card payments (above):
  • Account type: reloadable and non-reloadable
Notes GP prepaid debit cards share the same networks as non-prepaid debit cards.
Sources DFIPS, NPIPS

Table 8. GP Credit Card Payments

Description General-purpose credit card transactions
Contents
  • Payments with U.S. cards
  • Payments via digital wallet
  • Cash advances
  • Adjustments and returns
  • Denials
  • Non-network payments with co-branded cards
  • Cross-border payments to U.S. payees with non-U.S. cards
Allocations In addition to allocations for GP card payments (above):
  • Payer type: consumer and business
Notes Payments made at merchants cobranded with the issuer and network on some cards are not sent through the card network. These payments are processed internally by the card issuer, reported separately, and not included in the network totals.
Sources DFIPS, NPIPS

Table 9. PL Prepaid & EBT Card Payments

Description Private-label prepaid debit and electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card transactions
Contents
  • PL prepaid debit card transactions
  • EBT card transactions
Allocations
  • Channel: in person and remote
  • Card type: reloadable and non-reloadable
Notes
  • Private-label prepaid debit cards include cards used on proprietary networks for purchases at specific merchants and EBT cards used to provide government assistance.
Sources NPIPS

Table 10. PL Credit Card Payments

Description Private-label credit card transactions
Contents PL credit card transactions
Allocations
  • Channel: in person and remote
  • Payer type: consumer and business
Notes Private-label credit cards include cards used on proprietary networks for purchases at specific merchants.
Sources NPIPS

Table 11. Alternative Payments

Description Payments initiated via alternative payment methods and systems
Contents
  • Alternative payments via depository institution (DI) website or app
    • Bill payment transactions
    • Person-to-person (P2P) transfers
  • P2P and money transfers
    • Cross-border payments from non-U.S. domiciled accounts
  • Online bill payments
  • Walk-in bill payments
  • Private-label ACH debit card payments
    • Cash-back at the point of sale
    • Adjustments and returns
    • Denials
  • Payments using online payment authentication methods
  • Mobile wallet payments
Allocations
  • Alternative payments via DI website or app
    • P2P transfers
      • On-us and off-us (interbank)
  • P2P and Money Transfer Processors
    • Payee location: domestic and cross-border
    • Origination channel: website, mobile device, in person and other
    • Clearing method: credit card/signature debit network, EFT/PIN debit network, ACH, book transfer and other
  • Online Bill Payment Processors
    • Initiation method: bank/intermediary and biller-direct
    • Disbursement method: ACH, check, wire and other
    • Funding method: cash, check, GP card, ACH and other
  • Walk-In Bill Payment Processors
    • Disbursement method: ACH, check, wire and other
    • Funding method: cash, GP card and other
  • Private-Label ACH Debit Card Processors
    • Adjustments and returns: ACH returns and other
  • Online Payment Authentication Methods Processors
    • Authentication method: redirected from the merchant or biller site, secure online prepaid/escrow account, token vault and other
  • Mobile Wallet Processors
    • Channel: purchase, person-to-person and other
    • Purchase channel: in person and remote
Notes Payments initiated via alternative payment methods and systems require clearing and settlement through another payment type, typically via the ACH system or a general-purpose card network.
Sources DFIPS, NPIPS
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Last Update: October 29, 2020