I certainly agreed with the front-page headline on June 17, "Visa Check Card Seen Imperiling ATM Networks." The regional networks are in peril if they don't wake up to the not so new reality that the debit service, be it on-line or off-line, will eventually follow the route taken years ago by credit cards.

The credit card industry is built on a select few international consumer brands and an immense and highly efficient network of regional processors. That is exactly how the debit industry will eventually evolve.

No one is better suited than Visa and MasterCard to take debit branding to a level where customer perceptions form the basis of a long-standing relationship between customer and service. No one is better suited to provide transaction processing, back-office support, and regional sales and service than the regional processors.

If the regionals wake up to this reality, the peril they see today will quickly turn into a significant opportunity tomorrow. And everybody wins- the member financial institutions, the nationals, the regionals, and, most important, the consumers.

Del R. Tonguette

Del Tonguette's Business and Marketing Solutions

Slidell, La.

Editor's note: Mr. Tonguette, formerly president of the Gulfnet automated teller network, heads a consulting firm, Del Tonguette's Business and Marketing Solutions.

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