But the biggest winner could be Bank of America, which will issue the prepaid cards and stands to collect an untold amount in fees from card users and merchants who own the stores where the cards may be used. The arrangement allows the Charlotte, N.C. bank to charge some card users fees as high as $10 per transaction. And unlike ordinary debit cards linked to a bank account, there are no caps on the fees banks can charge merchants when customers use prepaid debit cards.
The South Carolina Department of Revenue’s decision is part of a larger movement inside government. In 41 states, unemployment benefits are issued via prepaid debit card. Nearly every state issues food stamp and cash welfare benefits on prepaid debit or similar cards. Even the federal government will stop issuing traditional social security checks early next year. Government agencies stand to save millions while banks stand to gain much more.
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