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The Federal Reserve Payments Study tracks and reports aggregate estimates of payment volumes, payments fraud, and related information in the United States, offering a periodic benchmark to policymakers, the industry, and the public. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta sponsors the study on behalf of the Federal Reserve System and partners with the Federal Reserve Board of Governors to conduct it.

The study reports the aggregate number and value of noncash payments made by U.S. consumers and businesses, including for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises and local, state, and federal governments. The value and number of checks, automated clearinghouse (ACH) transfers, and payments made with prepaid debit cards, nonprepaid debit cards, and credit cards are estimated using data from payment service providers. Recent studies also collected information on payments fraud, cash withdrawals and deposits, wire transfers, and emerging payment methods.

Full reports have been issued for calendar years 2000, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2015, and 2018. Annual supplements have been conducted beginning with calendar years 2016. The next full report will be for calendar year 2021.

Payments study team members develop aggregate estimates from data collected from representative samples of depository institutions and a census of payment networks, processors, and private-label issuers. The study components include the following:

  • The Depository and Financial Institutions Payments Survey—a representative sample of banks, thrifts and credit unions—collects the number and value of noncash payments, cash withdrawals and deposits, third-party payments fraud, and related information.
  • The Networks, Processors, and Issuers Payments Surveys—a census of the major card networks, card processors, and card issuers—collect the number and value of electronic payments, payments fraud, and related information.
  • The Check Sample Survey collects information on the characteristics of a random sample of individual checks to categorize them by counterparty and purpose.