Setting the right example

[Dave Birch] As you may recall, the US Treasury Department is introducing a pre-paid debit card that will be used to deliver benefit payments to social security recipients. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Treasury selected Comerica Bank as the card issuer for the programme, which will see social security recipients who don’t have a bank account given a “Direct Express” prepaid that will be loaded directly with welfare payments. The move is, in a way, obvious because the pre-paid card market is as a key place to bring financial services to the unbanked. Note that ss many as 40 million US households either have no bank account or make little use of banking services, according to research conducted by Chicago’s Center for Financial Services Innovation. The card is being introduced to provide benefit recipients with faster access to money and eliminate some security problems, like stolen cheques, but it will also save money because it must cost considerably less to make an electronic payment than to print and mail a cheque anyway.

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