PORTLAND, Ore., Mar 23, 2004 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- U.S. Bank and the Oregon State
Employment Department have partnered to provide an innovative payment program
that allows the state to disperse unemployment benefit payments on a plastic
card versus a paper check. The program became available statewide on March 15.
The prepaid card functions like a debit card though it is not attached to a
checking or savings account. Instead of cutting a check and mailing it to the
recipient, the state electronically loads the payment on to the card that the
recipient can use to make purchases or withdraw cash. The card carries the Visa
logo and is accepted at millions of Visa debit locations worldwide.
The program is among the first of its kind in the United States. It cuts costs
for the state because it no longer has to produce and mail a check or incur
other costs associated with a paper check. The card also brings convenience and
safety to cardholders who no longer have to find the time and place to cash
their checks and pay check cashing fees.
"The U.S. Bank ReliaCard Visa(R) is one of the newest forms of electronic
payment applications available to consumers," said Brigid O'Callaghan, vice
president and manager of U.S. Bank Government Banking in Oregon. "The decision
by the Oregon State Employment Department to employ this program, and the
efficiencies that it creates for recipients, signifies the department's concerns
about the ability of their recipients to get their funds in an effective,
streamlined fashion. It is exciting to work with a state agency that is in tune
with e-commerce and forward thinking."
U.S. Bank originally entered into a pilot test program with the Oregon State
Employment Department in the spring of 2003. With the new ReliaCard Visa
program, more than 80,000 recipients have the ability to choose whether they
want to receive payments by direct deposit, check or the card. The State of
Oregon currently sends 11 percent of unemployment benefit disbursements
electronically using direct deposit. "However not everyone has access to a bank
account," said Tom Fuller, communications manager with the Oregon Employment
Department. "The ReliaCard Visa program allows those families who are not able
to use direct deposit to receive their payments electronically."
Fuller says clients appreciate the fact that the card can be used as a Visa
debit card, which allows them to make purchases where ever Visa debit cards are
accepted, such as grocery stores, restaurants, the mall or shopping online.
Additionally, cardholders can track unemployment benefits and spending
separately from other funds through monthly statements or through 24-hour
customer service via the Internet or telephone.
Approximately 500 people use the card in Oregon, a number that continues to grow
now that the card is available statewide. The program has the potential to
benefit all recipients of the more than 300,000 checks that the state issues
The card is available free of charge, with the exception of when funds are
withdrawn from an ATM or teller, in which case there is a $1.50 fee. If the card
is lost or stolen, it is backed by Visa's zero liability policy, which means the
cardholder is not responsible for unauthorized purchases.
U.S. Bank implemented similar programs in Washington, Iowa, Colorado and
Minnesota for child support payments and is working with other government
agencies to initiate the ReliaCard Visa in more states and in various
U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB), with assets of $189 billion, is the 8th largest
financial services holding company in the United States. The company operates
2,243 banking offices and 4,425 ATMs in 24 states and provides a comprehensive
line of banking, brokerage, insurance, investment, mortgage, trust and payment
services products to consumers, businesses and institutions. U.S. Bancorp is
home of the Five Star Service Guarantee which assures customers of certain key
banking benefits and services or customers will be paid for their inconvenience.
U.S. Bancorp is the parent company of U.S. Bank. Visit U.S. Bancorp on the web
SOURCE: U.S. Bank
CONTACT: U.S. Bank
Teri Charest, 612-303-0732
Oregon Employment Dept.
Tom Fuller, 503-947-1301
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Copyright (C) 2004 Business Wire. All rights reserved.
SOURCE: U.S. Bank