This publication offers key insights and observations into the Federal Reserve System's cash practices, policies, and strategic direction.


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Consumer Payments and the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Second Supplement to the 2020 Findings from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice

Posted February 9, 2021

A majority of consumers continued to increase the amount of cash they are carrying and/or storing, while nearly 80% of respondents who made in-person purchases did not indicate that they were avoiding or averse to using cash during the COVID-19 pandemic. These are two prominent findings from the most recent consumer survey conducted by the Federal Reserve System’s Cash Product Office (CPO) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.


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Consumer Payments and the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Supplement to the 2020 Findings from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice

Posted July 31, 2020

In the 2020 Findings from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice, data from October 2019 show that consumers used cash for 26 percent of all payments, and that it is used for nearly 47 percent of payments under $10. To gain an understanding of how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting consumers’ payment choices, the Federal Reserve conducted a supplemental Diary survey from April to May 2020, which provides initial insight into how payment behavior is evolving in the midst of the crisis.


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Cash Me If You Can: The Impacts of Cashless Businesses on Retailers, Consumers, and Cash Use

Posted August 19, 2019

Cashless coffee shops, restaurants, and convenience stores have popped up across the country. It is not illegal to refuse cash as a form of payment in most states and cities in the U.S., and going cashless helps these businesses eliminate the costs of handling and transporting cash. But do these savings come at the cost of financial inclusion? This paper explores the impacts of businesses going cashless.

2019 Findings from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice

Posted June 26, 2019

In its fifth iteration, the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice data show that cash continues to be used extensively for small-value purchases – representing nearly half of all payments under $10 and 42 percent of payments less than $25. However, consumers’ use of other payment options, including debit and credit cards, is growing.


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2018 Findings from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice

Posted November 15, 2018

This paper explores how often U.S. consumers spent and held cash during the 2017 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice survey. Data from 2017 show that cash continues to be the most frequently used payment instrument, representing 30 percent of all transactions and 55 percent of transactions under $10.


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Cash Holdings: A New View on Cash

Posted June 28, 2017

As new payments and technologies continue to emerge, cash retains a strong hold among consumers. This paper explores how often U.S. consumers held and spent cash during the 2015 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice survey, and it provides an analysis on consumers’ cash holding behavior.


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The State of Cash: Preliminary Findings from the 2015 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice

Posted November 3, 2016

As the payments landscape continues to evolve, cash remains a resilient payment instrument. The Diary of Consumer Payment Choice is one of the Federal Reserve’s primary data sources on consumer payments, and insights from the Diary provide an outlook on how consumers use cash compared to other payment instruments. When first conducted in 2012, Diary results showed that cash was the most frequently used payment instrument and its use was prevalent across all demographic groups. This paper focuses on findings and insights from the 2015 Diary and how they compare to the earlier research.

Shopping Experience Trends and their Impact on Cash

Posted April 26, 2016

The way consumers shop today is much different than ten years ago, largely due to the proliferation of new technologies like smartphones and tablets. Today’s new methods of shopping often blur the line between “in-person” and “online” purchases and influence how consumers choose to pay for their purchases. This paper identifies five themes that describe today’s shopping experience and how this new experience may impact cash’s position in the payment landscape.


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Consumer Preferences and the Use of Cash: Evidence from the Diary of Consumer Payments Choice – Working Paper

Posted July 21, 2014

With the increase in electronic payments, it has been difficult to determine how personal preferences impact the demand for cash as a payment instrument. By analyzing data on demographics and stated payment preferences, this FedNotes paper provides evidence on the determinants of cash usage for small value payments, and particularly how consumers’ stated payment instrument preference and the amount of the purchase affect their propensity to use cash.

Cash Continues to Play a Key Role in Consumer Spending: Evidence from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice

Posted April 29, 2014

It’s commonplace these days to predict the demise of cash. However, evidence from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice (DCPC) suggests that consumers choose to use cash more frequently than any other payment instrument, including debit or credit cards. Cash plays a dominant role for small-value transactions, is the leading payment instrument for many types of purchases, and stands as the key alternative when other options are not available. Using the DCPC data, this FedNotes paper explores where, how, and why people use the various payment options and highlights the key and enduring roles cash continues to play in consumer transactions.

Trends in Retail Cash Automation: A Market Overview of Retail Cash Handling Technologies

Posted March 14, 2014

Until recently, cash handling has been largely a manual and labor-intensive process. However, this has begun to change with new devices that automate certain back office cash handling functions, such as cash dispensers, recyclers, and smart-safes. Because cash usage remains strong, merchants, banks, and armored carriers are exploring ways to take advantage of these new technologies to automate their cash handling functions. This FedNotes paper provides an overview of cash handling in the financial and merchant environments, along with how these new devices are being used.


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Maintaining a Robust and Efficient Cash System in a Changing Landscape

Posted August 20, 2013

The role of paper currency in the U.S. economy is changing. While the share of payments made with cash appears to be falling, cash continues to be used widely and plays an important function as a store of value, domestically and internationally. Cash also serves an enduring role in natural or other disasters when other payment systems may not be available. These factors suggest that cash will continue to be an essential and significant part of the payment and financial system for the foreseeable future.