Treasury Undersecretary John D. Hawke Jr. reminded bankers Monday that by Jan. 1, 1999, the government will be making more than one billion electronic payments a year, and not to ignore people who get government benefits but don't have a bank account.

A 1996 law requires that all federal payments except tax refunds be made electronically. Speaking at a National Automated Clearing House Association conference in Orlando, Mr. Hawke urged bankers to court those 10 million people.

"It is our hope that the financial industry will leave little or nothing for us to do by creating attractive, cost-effective, and innovative products to meet the needs of payment recipients," he said. "The federal government would like to partner with banks to consider creating new types of accounts that will meet the needs of the unbanked, such as electronic- access-only accounts."

With such accounts, customers could only deposit money via direct deposit and only withdraw money with debit cards.

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