>Fonte: Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page B6 em SEPTEMBER 3, 2009

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation’s largest private employer, is eliminating paper payroll checks in the U.S., transferring workers’ earnings to a debit card if they decline direct deposit to a bank.

Wal-Mart is the biggest company yet to make the move that it said will save paper and money. It estimates the move will save 257,572 pounds of paper a year. It declined to specify the savings but said the shift will reduce its payroll costs.

Government agencies such as the Social Security Administration have recently begun using similar cards to dispense payments to benefit recipients.

Some Wal-Mart workers last month received earnings electronically in the form of credit to a MasterCard Inc. debit card. The program will roll out nationally this month, though many of Wal-Mart’s 1.4 million U.S. workers will continue to receive paper checks for months while it is fully implemented. About half of its U.S. workers now receive paper checks.

Though the debit cards save companies money by reducing payroll costs, consumer advocates have criticized some card programs, noting that workers are often charged fees to access their money or even check balances.

MasterCard, however, said First Data Corp., which will process the transactions, agreed with Wal-Mart to offer some of the lowest fees available among such cards, and noted that many workers already pay fees for cashing checks. It said employees’ first ATM transaction a pay period is free; subsequent ones cost $2 each.

Laura Kelly, senior vice president of global prepaid cards at MasterCard, said the arrangement benefits both companies and workers, who “won’t have to go to stores to pick up their paychecks anymore.”

Workers will be able to use the cards wherever debit cards are accepted, including at ATMs, and will be able to withdraw cash without fees at Wal-Mart and Sam’s club registers.

In addition, Wal-Mart workers can receive checkbooks that they can use to write checks on their debit accounts to baby sitters and others who don’t accept MasterCard. The workers will still be able to access electronic pay stubs if needed.

Write to Miguel Bustillo at [email protected]

Corrections & Amplifications
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will continue paying many U.S. workers with paper checks while a conversion to electronic payment that rolls out nationally this month is implemented. A previous version of this article said all of the company’s U.S. workers would be paid electronically by month’s end.