Fed Study Finds Continued Growth in Credit-Card to make Payments

Fed Study Finds Continued Growth in Credit-Card Payments
Central bank says credit-card payments grew 10.2% in 2016

By Kate Davidson Updated Dec. 21, 2017 1:13 p.m. ET

Americans increasingly relied on credit cards to make payments in 2016, and made more of those payments remotely, according to new data the Federal Reserve released Thursday.

The number of credit-card payments grew 10.2% last year, to 37.3 billion, compared with an annual growth rate of 8.1% over the previous three years.

The Fed attributed the increase in part to “continued strong growth” in the number of remote payments, such as online shopping and bill paying, which represented 22.2% of all general-purpose credit and debit-card payments. Remote payments increased 1.5% from 2015, the Fed said. By value, remote payments represented 44% of all general-purpose card payments.

The data released Thursday are part of a new annual collection of information on trends in payments—including credit cards, checks and other electronic payments—that will supplement the Fed’s triennial study of the payments system.

Overall, American consumers paid with cards 111.1 billion times in 2016, a 7.4% increase from the previous year, and the value of those payments grew 5.8% to $5.98 trillion. Those growth rates were slightly slower than the rates recorded during from 2012 to 2015, the Fed said, as growth in debit-card payments slowed by number and total value.

The share of in-person general-purpose card payments that rely on chip technology surged in 2016, to 19.1% in 2016 from only 2% in 2015, “reflecting the coordinated effort to place the technology in cards and card-accepting terminals,” the Fed said.

The data also showed more payments fraud has shifted online. In 2015, roughly 53.8% of payments fraud by value from general-purpose credit cards occurred in person. That flipped last year, when 58.5% of fraud occurred remotely, the Fed said.

Data from the largest banks also revealed a continued decline in the number and value of commercial checks paid in 2016, with the data suggesting the average value of a check paid also declined slightly since the previous year.


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