A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco revealed cash usage increased slightly in 2021. In October 2021, the monthly average number of cash payments per consumer increased to seven, from six one year earlier, according to 2022 Findings from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice. This marked the first time the San Francisco Fed recorded an increase in cash usage since the diary's inception in 2016. "The 2021 increase after [a] seven-percentage-drop in cash share in the first Covid-19 year could imply that consumers' transactional use of cash may have reached its floor during the pandemic," wrote Emily Cubides and Shaun O'Brien of the San Francisco Fed.
Separate studies by Axerve and Arkose Labs highlight the need for security and payments orchestration as retailers rush to support multiple checkout options at all points of interaction. Axerve's New technologies and trends in digital payments in 2022 assesses digital commerce's impact on merchants. Alessandro Bocca, CEO of Axerve, stated the white paper underscores a need to align digital methodologies and merchant capabilities. "In order for merchants to harness the benefits of diverse payment methods for their customers, it is vital that the new forms of purchasing experiences that are emerging are met with an omnichannel and fluid approach and platforms capable of simplifying multiple payments for merchants," Bocca said.
The card brands are preparing for the next iteration of contactless payments—when a smile or wave of the hand is all it takes to complete payment. Mastercard revealed a new Biometric Checkout program, a "first-of-its-kind technology framework" to pave the way for biometric payments at stores large and small. The program outlines standards for banks, merchants and technology companies to follow to ensure security and privacy of personal data when consumers pay biometrically. Mastercard said it is working with a half dozen technology partners to advance biometric payments, including the Brazilian startup Payface.
The Federal Reserve is piloting its new payments initiative, FedNow, with an eye toward making instant payments a reality beginning in 2023. A few organizations have connected and delivered text messages over a pilot version of FedNow, laying the groundwork for full-scale, end-to-end testing later this year, the Fed said in a statement. More than 120 organizations, primarily financial institutions, have signed up for the pilot. One notable non-FI participating is Square Financial Services Inc., which the Fed said “satisfied pilot criteria surrounding instant payments readiness.” The Fed plays a pivotal role in the nation’s payments system by facilitating clearing and settlement of transactions between FIs and their clearing agents.
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