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Issue #4 | June 27, 2017

Recently, from the Cleveland Fed

  • Fed Scholars

    The city through their eyes: Fed Scholars pen book

    Since 2011, the Cleveland Fed has partnered with local community agencies to engage area high school students in a paid internship. Over the past year, 7 Fed Scholars from Lincoln-West High School, in Cleveland’s Clark-Fulton neighborhood, worked for the Money Museum and penned poems and short essays. Their writing has been published in a book. Read Somewhere in Cleveland: The Cleveland Fed Scholars Story Project.

  • Smarter, faster, better payments are evolving

    Smarter, faster, better payments are evolving

    Making a payment might just be the most common stranger-to-stranger activity we do, and most of us don’t give much thought to what happens behind the scenes. We have payment options, and pretty soon we’ll have more. Find out what’s coming. (And check out “Ask the Expert”, too.)

  • How's business? Regional data show how small firms are faring

    How’s business? Regional data show how small firms are faring

    While small businesses in the Cleveland Fed’s District were less likely than those in the rest of the nation to report challenges making debt payments or obtaining credit, they were also larger—as measured by revenue—and more likely to resist taking on debt. They’re also more likely to be owned by people older than 55. Read other ways our small businesses differ.

Ask the Expert


What is the single most important evolution in payments today, and why?


Electronic networks. Payments went from an entirely paper world in the 1950s and 1960s to a largely electronic world today, allowing for point-of-sale transactions, debit and credit cards, Internet and mobile banking, and check image clearing. These conveniences were enabled by banks’ adopting computers and taking advantage of modern telecommunications systems.

Some other countries have new systems called “faster” or “real-time” payments that allow individuals and businesses to send payments to each other in a matter of seconds. In the United States, we’re moving toward faster payments, too. The Fed has been collaborating with commercial banks, credit unions, and other stakeholders to bring the system to market, but the country has some unique constraints: a huge number of depository institutions (roughly 13,000), a complex payments system, and the fact that bank regulators don’t have legal authority to demand far-reaching changes from the private sector.

In late 2017 and 2018, we’ll start to see advertising for near-real-time payment services from banks and credit unions, along with products for sending “instant” payments to one another through smart phones and online banking services. These products are likely to supplant other payment methods such as checks and cash and make newer payment access devices such as payment apps on smart phones much more popular.

Dan Littman

Dan Littman,

a policy advisor for the Cleveland Fed, has studied payments for 3 decades. Read more about the Federal Reserve’s faster payments initiative at Also, Dan writes about the US payments system regularly in his Cash Per Diem blog.

By the Numbers

On the Calendar

Summer touring, had me a blast

Spend some vacation time visiting the Learning Center and Money Museum!
Admission is free. Open Monday–Thursday, 9:30 am–2:30 pm.

  • 2017 P2P Financial Systems International Workshop (London)

    July 20 & 21

    2017 P2P Financial Systems International Workshop (London)

From around the Federal Reserve System

2016 Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking

Nearly one-fourth of adults are unable to pay monthly bills in full

The Federal Reserve Board of Governors conducted its 4th annual Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking in 2016. They asked about income and jobs, education and student debt, access to credit, and whether respondents were living comfortably or having difficulty getting by financially.

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