WSJ.com - Electronic Ways to Pay Eclipse Checks in Number

Electronic payment systems are now mainstream:
WSJ.com - Electronic Ways to Pay Eclipse Checks in Number: "The number of payments Americans make by debit-card and other electronic transactions has, for the first time, exceeded those made by check.

According to a study by the Federal Reserve, the majority of noncash payments made in the U.S. are now done electronically. Electronic payment transactions include those made with credit and debit cards.

The total number of electronic payment transactions reached 44.5 billion last year, the study said. Checks were still the single largest noncash payment type in 2003, however, with the total number at 36.7 billion. That compares with 30.6 billion electronic payments and 41.9 billion checks paid in 2000, the last year for which the Fed has similar data.

The increasing popularity of debit cards helped drive the growth of electronic payments. According to the study, debit-card transactions were the fastest-growing type of electronic payment, with an estimated average annual growth rate of about 24% from 2000 to 2003.

The number of checks declined at an average annual rate of 4.3% from 2000 to 2003, while electronic forms of payment grew at an average rate of 13%. The Federal Reserve expects the decline in checks to continue, predicting that the number of credit- and debit-card transactions could each exceed the number of checks by the end of the decade.

Interesting stuff. Another example of disruptive innovation in action.

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