Diebold Inc. is seeking bank partners to test the use of its automated teller machines to sell prepaid cards.

Kenneth C. Justice, the North Canton, Ohio, ATM maker's vice president of global marketing and portfolio management, said that Diebold is talking with several financial companies, which he would not name, and that it hopes to begin testing the service in the first quarter.

Opteva ATMs have five cassettes to hold banknotes, but one can be configured to hold about 2,000 cards, Justice said. The cards would be blank and unembossed, and would not be activated until they are purchased.

Consumers buying the cards from an ATM would fund them with cash or by transferring money from a bank account.

"Banks already are sold on prepaid cards because they issue them through the teller window," Justice said. "The ATM would enable card sales 24/7."

Initially, prepaid cards sold through ATMs would not be reloadable, but that feature eventually could be added, Justice said.

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