For the first time electronic payments have surpassed cash and checks as consumers’ preferred payment method for in-store purchases. A new study, released this week, has found that cash and checks now account for only 47% of consumers’ in-store purchases, as compared to 57% in 1999 and 51% in 2001. In another striking statistics: debit represented only 21% of in-store transactions four years ago, but now nearly one out of three in-store purchases are made with a debit card. The study by the American Bankers Association and Boston-based strategy consulting firm Dove Consulting also found that cash remains the single most frequently used payment method in stores, but its share of the transaction mix has fallen from 39% in 1999 to 32% in 2003. Checks also play a diminishing role at the point-of-sale, accounting for just 15% of purchases. Comparatively, consumer use of credit cards for in-store purchases has remained relatively constant at 21%. At 2%, the “other” payments category is made up of prepaid cards.