Visa U.S.A. said the number of financial institutions in its Interlink debit network has surpassed 500.

More than 375 have said they will add the Interlink mark to automated teller machine cards, allowing them to be used at retail stores with on-line payment terminals. Another 125 institutions are engaged in signing merchants to accept the cards.

Visa said 16 of the 25 largest U.S. institutions have issued, or are committed to issuing, Interlink cards. There are 23 million cards in circulation, and Interlink is projecting 67 million in the United States by 1995.

MasterCard International's comparable Maestro program has reported 268 U.S. members with about 8 million cards and 16 million more committed. In a bid for further growth, Maestro is offering membership incentives to participants in Cirrus System Inc., the MasterCard ATM network. The company said this could add thousands of institutions.

Growth Outside the U.S.

The competitors also have targeted growth outside the United States, where Maestro has 89 million committed cards. Visa this month announced the international launch of Interlink, which complements two other debit products, Electron and Visa Check.

"Surpassing the 500 mark [for U.S. members] is an outstanding achievement for Interlink, especially when you consider that only 69 institutions were signed up in October of 1991, when Visa acquired Interlink," said Wesley C. Tallman, president of interlink Network.

Separately, Interlink said Barnett Banks Inc. executive Cynthia A. Graham was named the 25th member of the debit network's board.

Ms. Graham, as president of Barnett Card Services Corp., manages credit and debit programs.

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