MasterCard International announced Monday that it had recruited five more financial institutions - including three big regional banks - as members of Maestro U.S.A., its nascent electronic debit card system.

The nationwide system's new members, representing about two million ATM cardholders, are Mellon Bank, Pittsburgh; Bank of New York; Boatmen's Bancshares Inc., St. Louis; Liberty National Bank and Trust Lexington, Ky.; and CU Cooperative Systems Inc., an association representing 150 California credit unions.

By putting the Maestro logo on the backs of their customers' ATM card, banks transform the cards into a means of buying goods and services nationwide. The new members will also process Maestro transactions for merchants, MasterCard said.

The card association also announced an alliance with Ohio's Green Machine, which will provide access to the Maestro network for its members.

Together, the new Maestro members represent more than five million ATM cardholders and 325 banks, credit unions, and savings and loans.

The announcement from MasterCard is part of a continuing battle with its chief bank card competitor, Visa U.S.A., to position itself as the dominant fully electronic debit card network. Visa is heavily promoting Interlink, its direct-debit system.

Competition between the two card groups is fierce because financial institutions can issue only a single national debit card.

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