Influence of New Payment Innovations on Consumer Choice

Released in fall of 2014, The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s 2011 & 2012 Surveys of Consumer Payment Choice present their latest findings on consumer payment behavior. The FED now has several years of data, allowing for longer term trend analysis.

The updated data reflects widespread diversity and the influence of new payment innovations along with a persistent reliance on cash.

  • Consumers made an average of 69 cash & non-cash payments per month.
  • Of these payments, 32% were bill payments. Among bills, the most common payment method was by mail or in person, followed by online, then automatic payments.
  • Debit cards and cash account for the 2 largest shares of consumer payments, totaling 60%. Electronic payments represent 10%.
  • The noncash payment instrument still held by the most consumers was checks, at 85%, although paper check payments have been declining at a rate of 7% per year.
  • The payment type with the highest adoption rate was online bill payments, attributable to the increased availability of Internet access through mobile devices.
  • 95% of consumers have a mobile phone, 53% of consumers have a smart phone.
  • 18% of consumers made a mobile payment in 2012, up from 3% in 2009.
  • Consumers have more payment instruments to choose from than ever before. The average consumer held 1.5 (out of a choice of 4 types) in 1989 and 5.3 (out of a choice of 9) in 2012.