by Geoffrey R. Gerdes,May X. Liu, Jason P. Berkenpas, Matthew C. Chen, Matthew C. Hayward, James M. McKee, Scott Dake, Patrick Dyer, Dave Brangaccio, Nancy Donahue – The Federal Reserve System
The USA payments system has evolved rapidly since 2003, the year the U.S. Congress passed the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act (Check 21), which facilitated the development of widespread electronic check processing and clearing. Over the past 10 years, paper check payments, which – prior to Check 21 – typically required physical processing and transporting, have been replaced by more efficient electronic processes and alternative payment methods.
By 2012, about two-thirds of consumer and business payments were made with payment cards, and the share of card payments by number has been growing. Cards increased their share from 43 percent of all noncash payments in 2003 to 67 percent in 2012, while the use of ACH grew more modestly, increasing from a share of 11 percent in 2003 to 18 percent in 2012. Checks represented nearly half (46 percent) of all noncash payments in 2003 , but only 15 percent in 2012.