Elan Financial Services' MoneyPass electronic funds transfer network is extending its surcharge-free ATM coverage to include 2,000 stores through Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s MoneyCenter Express machines.

The deal with Walmart will provide an additional service to customers buying prepaid cards from the retailer, most of which participate in the MoneyPass network, Doug Miraglia, MoneyPass' president, said in an interview. The prepaid cards Walmart sells are on J-hooks not far from the machines, he says.

"Since that is beginning to become a very, very active business for them because of their clientele, it made sense to them" to participate in MoneyPass, he says. "Because of Walmart's leadership in prepaid cards and ATMs, we expect their competitors to follow. We're already speaking to some that also are expressing interest in this type of thing."

Surcharge-free access has become a common offering among prepaid card providers, Miraglia says. MoneyPass has seen a boost in prepaid card activity at its ATMs from unemployment and other government card programs, as well as payroll cards, cards from tax preparers and merchant-distributed cards. 

The Walmart machines also are available surcharge-free for all other MoneyPass cards, including those linked to a bank, credit union or brokerage accounts, Miraglia says. MoneyPass has more than 1,500 participating organizations and 60 million active cards.

"The attraction to something like this for Walmart is that is will increase foot traffic and repeat visits," he says.

MoneyPass' surcharge-free ATM network includes more than 23,000 locations.

Walmart has no similar relationships with other surcharge-free ATM networks, "but we are always working to find new ways to offer our customers convenient and affordable access to everyday money services," Walmart spokesperson Sarah Spenser said in an email.

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