The U.S. Treasury will allow two financial technology companies to issue prepaid Visa cards loaded with coronavirus stimulus payments.
Reuters reported its sources confirmed MetaBank of South Dakota and Wisconsin-based Fiserv got the go-ahead following lobbying of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by payment industry groups.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had said a more efficient distribution of government funds would be achieved through digital delivery and prepaid card providers.
Fiserv and Visa declined to comment and MetaBank did not respond to a request for comment, the news service said.
Getting the payments into the hands of taxpayers has posed a challenge for the IRS. Prepaid cards are one solution when the IRS does not have a taxpayer’s bank account information and for the several million who lack a bank account.
The CARES Act provided Americans to receive $1,200 or $2,400 payments, and $500 per dependent. Earlier this month, the IRS began depositing the payments as part of a $2.3 trillion relief package into taxpayer bank accounts who filed their 2018 or 2019 taxes electronically.
So far, the agency has delivered 89.5 million payments totaling nearly $160 billion. The IRS still must provide 60.5 million more payments to complete distribution to 150 million taxpayers.
An IRS spokesman has said the payments will continue this spring and summer.
PaymentsSource reported a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill are asking the Treasury Department to use blockchain and other distributed ledgers to get the stimulus payments out.
Rep. Darren Soto, a Florida Democrat, argued that blockchain provides security and can address the problems the IRS has faced in distributing funds during the crisis.
Other members of Congress, the report said, pushed for central bank-backed digital dollars or public peer-to-peer (P2P) apps as a way to reach taxpayers and to avoid delays in sending checks.