RDP 2014-05: The Changing Way We Pay: Trends in Consumer Payments Appendix B: Comparison with Other Data Sources

The number of payments recorded in the 2013 Survey of Consumers' Use of Payment Methods matches the aggregate data fairly well for those payment instruments – cash, cards, BPAY and cheques – where a comparison is possible.[32] To provide an estimate of aggregate payments over the month, the diary data are scaled by the population aged over 18 years and by the number of weeks in November. Comparison data are sourced from the RPS (except for cash) and represent personal payments to match the definition used in the survey. Personal payments are available in the RPS only for card, BPAY and cheque payments. The volume of cash payment is estimated (see below). Summing across cash, cards, BPAY and cheques, the total number of payments recorded in the survey is within 5 per cent of the total suggested by the alternative estimates (Table B1). For the individual payment methods, the deviation was only slightly larger, ranging from less than 10 per cent for cards to around 20 per cent for cheques.

One caveat is warranted. The survey appears to record fewer debit card payments and more credit and charge card payments than would be expected given the RPS data. One reason for this is that some consumers may have incorrectly reported the type of card payment being made, with MasterCard and Visa debit payments possibly mistaken for credit card payments due to card terminal design or confusion over the use of debit cards in the online environment. The survey was designed to minimise this confusion, but it is nonetheless likely to affect the results to a small degree.

Unlike electronic payments and cheques, there are no official estimates of the number or value of cash payments; obtaining information regarding cash payments is one motivation for running the survey. The comparison data for cash in Table B1 is an estimate calculated by dividing the value of cash withdrawals from the banking system by the average value of cash payments, a common method in the literature.[33] The value of cash withdrawals is equal to withdrawals from ATMs, cash advances and eftpos cash-out as published in the RPS.[34] Over-the-counter withdrawals are excluded as these tend to be larger and may reflect a desire to hold cash as a store of value or make large irregular payments. The average cash payment value is estimated from the survey data and equal to $28 in 2007 and $26 in 2013. As a crosscheck, the measure is useful but it should not be interpreted too strictly as it rests on the strong assumption that each dollar withdrawn is used to make one dollar of consumer payments before returning to the banking system.

Table B1: Comparing Survey Data to Alternative Sources
Payment instrument Implied number of payments November 2013 (millions) Change in share
(percentage points)
Alternative data source Survey data Alternative data 2008–2013(a) Survey data 2007–2013
Total 1,045 1,017      
Cash(b) 561 471   −11.8 −19.2
Cards 449 417   12.0 18.8
Debit 298 225   10.9 9.5
MasterCard/Visa credit 130 158   0.6 6.6
American Express/Diners Card(c) 21 35   0.5 2.7
BPAY 29 34   0.3 1.4
Cheque 5 4   −0.5 −1.0

Notes: (a) Aggregate data for MasterCard/Visa debit payments only available from 2008
(b) Aggregate cash payment estimated using the cash withdrawal method
(c) Aggregate American Express and Diners Club card payments include business payments made on companion cards

Sources: BPAY; Colmar Brunton; RBA; Roy Morgan Research; authors' calculations


A comparison is not possible for direct debit or direct credit payments as the RPS data on payment volumes of these payment methods include large numbers of business payments that are not separately identified. [32]

For example, see Schmiedel, Kostova and Ruttenberg (2012). [33]

At RBA website, http://www.rba.gov.au/statistics/tables/. [34]