M&I Data Services Inc. and Visa U.S.A. announced an agreement to jointly promote Visa Check card services to M&I's 600 data processing clients.

M&I Data, a Milwaukee-based unit of Marshall & Ilsley Corp., already provides Visa Check card processing services to about 150 of its customers.

However, with the slow disappearance of big outsourcing deals for core bank applications, M&I Data, the largest bank-owned data processor, is looking to expand its presence in electronic funds transfer processing, observers said.

"This alliance is a further indication of M&I's strong commitment to support innovative electronic payment products," said Joseph Delgadillo, president of M&I Data, in a prepared statement.

Under terms of the alliance, M&I will procure for its customers the Visa services necessary to implement a Visa Check program.

Visa and M&I will jointly issue marketing material and will stage regional user conferences designed to help financial institutions promote the service to their customers.

In addition, M&I will offer some financial incentives, including the waiving of some standard setup fees, in an effort to attract new customers to the service.

Visa Check is an off-line debit product that can be attached to standard ATM cards.

Bank customers who have Visa Check can use their cards to make purchases with a debit from their bank accounts at retailers that accept the brand. M&I also offers processing for Visa's online debit product, known as Interlink.

About 45 million cards have either Visa Check or Interlink capabilities.

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