The 2014 SCPC reflects widespread diversity and the influence of new payment innovations, but also a persistent reliance on cash. Combined with similar data from the preceding years, the SCPC begins to suggest trends in consumer payments, including an ongoing steady decline in check payments at an average rate of nearly 10 percent per year from 2008 to 2014. This agrees with a longer-term trend in check use by the entire economy since at least 2000, as identified by the Federal Reserve Payments Study. Money orders and traveler’s checks have shown similar declines.
Another recent trend is the steady increase in consumers’ adoption of nonbank payment accounts (for example, PayPal) since 2011. The overall picture of consumer payments that emerges from the 2008–2014 SCPC may provide useful information and background for assessing potential policy changes, such as those discussed in the Federal Reserve’s strategic plan for the U.S. payment system (Federal Reserve System 2015a). For example, despite frequent security breaches in recent years, consumers’ assessments of the quality of payment security generally have improved since 2008. Consumers continue to prefer PIN as a method of authorizing debit card payments, and so far there is no apparent evidence that Regulation II (debit card interchange fees) has had a measurable impact on consumer preferences.