The Afro reports that yesterday marked the start of a new pilot program for unemployment compensation recipients in the District—-instead of getting checks, 2,000 people have agreed to try out a new debit card system. Currently nearly 11,000 of the total 27,669 beneficiaries receive paper checks. By January, the Department of Employment Services expects to eliminate checks altogether, providing recipients with either direct deposit or debit cards.

“DOES is moving away from paper checks to improve its overall business operations. We must be better stewards of federal funds by insuring the security of benefit payments,” said [spokesperson DavidThompson. “It will also prevent lost or stolen checks and multiple payments.”

The new electronic upgraded system is the department’s way to “go green.” The new system will also catch fraud, save money and become more efficient.

The debit card system will work similar to the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) for youth. “The recipient doesn’t need to have a bank account. The card can be used at any of the thousands of ATMs in the area,” Thompson said.

It’s good to see the District catching up with other parts of the country where debit cards are standard for people who are unbanked or underbanked.

Photo by James Callan via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution Generic 2.0 License