Many consumers without standard bank accounts are turning to prepaid debit cards to conduct a wide variety of financial transactions.

For example, nearly two million people are participating in Visa's Americas group, a program that uses prepaid debit cards for unemployment benefits, disability insurance, and paid family leave programs. There is huge consumer demand for these types of programs. In 2010, prepaid debit cards were used for about $65 billion in transactions. That was an increase of some $17 billion over 2009.

This type of activity generates roughly $1 billion in transaction fees. Banks collect two types of fees from these types of transactions. They get receive swipe fees from payment networks when consumers use the cards to make a purchase. Banks also may charge users for instances such as multiple ATM withdrawals, using a non-network ATM or overdrafts.

Fees vary by state. California -- with its massive number of potential transactions -- was able to negotiate a program with almost no consumer fees. In other states, such as Michigan, prepaid cards for unemployment insurance include a charge of $1.50 for each denied transaction. U.S. Bancorp's charges Ohio residents $17 for each overdraft.

The cards may assist some 60 million Americans who do not utilize standard bank accounts.

It is expected that in the near future a bunch of prepaid card products will spring up on the market. By 2014, insiders predict there will be some 5.4 million prepaid cards provided by employers -- a 100 percent increase over current figures.

The federal government ran a pilot program to load tax refunds on prepaid cards. The test program worked well. Starting in May, 2011, new Social Security recipients must choose between direct deposit or prepaid cards from Comerica Bank (CMA), as paper check payments will be completely phased out.