A new study has found that cash and checks now account for only 45% of consumers’ monthly payments, down from 57% in 2001, and 49% in 2003. Surprisingly, gift cards now account for 4% of all in-store purchases, up from 2% in 2003. Also, the percent of consumers who indicate using gift/prepaid cards to make at least one purchase per month in stores has increased from 12% in 2003, to 32% in 2005. Six years ago, debit represented only 21% of in-store transactions; today consumers report that one-third of in-store purchases are made with debit cards. The study by the American Bankers Association and Boston-based consulting group Dove Consulting, found that each month consumers make 58 individual payment choices, whether by buying things in stores or over the Internet, or paying bills. The conclusion: increasingly, the payment method they choose is an electronic one.