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With the introduction of a new debit card a year ago, Meridian Bancorp Inc. has brought its customers closer to the mystical "cashless society" of the future.
While other regional banks a year ago were content to operate within CoreStates Financial Corp's MAC network, Meridian broke from the pack, issuing more than 200,000 debit cards to its customers.
Meridian's move has given it a measure of independence from the fee structure of the MAC network, which is controlled by some of its key competitors. At the same time, it has left other bankers playing catch-up.
"It's working out very well for us," Joseph S. Pendleton III, Meridian's executive vice president for electronic banking, said last week.
The Advantage card, a hybrid debit card that works at automated teller machines, came out of Meridian's efforts to find a solution to a problem it ran into a couple of years …