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States to follow suit?

States, too, are experimenting with checkless payments. In Wisconsin, for instance, the state Division of Economic Assistance in May regularly began paying 150 recipients of Aid to Families With Dependent Children by sending a reel of magnetic tape to the First Wisconsin National Bank in Milwaukee.

The dollars are withdrawn by the bank from the state's account and deposited, with the assistance of a computer, into the aid recipients' accounts. Each recipient has an Electronic Funds Transfer card with an account number and a photo identification card.

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The 150 families participating in the Wisconsin experiment all previously had problems with lost or stolen checks. And many had found it difficult to cash checks. Some banks, saying they could not take the risk of loss due to forgery, had begun to charge a flat fee for such check cashing. The Wisconsin treasurer's office found that merchants and financial institutions lost $97,000 in the first half of 1980 by accepting checks that had been reported lost and on which payment had been stopped.

Wisconsin hopes to involve 1,000 families in Milwaukee County in the pilot program within the next few months. Eventually the program would be expanded to other counties.

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