Every year, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta conducts a survey of 1,000+ individuals to see how they spend their money, and the current results are fascinating.
Cash contributed for less than 19 percent of all transactions last year, a record low. The pandemic appears to have hastened the loss of cash, which was responsible for about one-third of all payments as recently as 2015.
Cards of some kind accounted for more than 57 percent of all payments, whether debit, credit, or prepaid (such as gift cards).
When we look at the statistics based on the number of transactions, as shown in the figure above, checks appear to be on their way out, accounting for just 6.5 percent of all transactions. However, if you slice the data differently and look at the proportion by dollar value rather than simply the number of transactions, you'll see that checks accounted for 20% of all dollars spent.
It would be a very safe bet to predict that the use of cash would continue to decline — but how long before it totally vanishes is a far more challenging gamble: 10 years, 20 years, 50 years? Never? Everything appears to be possible.
Source: 2020 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, chartr