As part of its plan to become one of the largest automated teller machine deployers, Banc One Corp. will install more than 800 machines in Sears, Roebuck and Co. stores.
Banc One also said it has contracts to install 4,700 Rapid Cash machines over the next year with other retailers.
All machines will assess surcharges of $1.50 on noncustomers and $1 on Banc One customers.
The Columbus, Ohio, banking company revealed in May that it intended to increase ATMs tenfold, to 20,000, over three to five years. The strategy- which the bank said would generate considerable surcharge income-would make Banc One's network comparable in size to some of the larger shared electronic banking networks, such as MAC and Honor.
The machines Banc One plans to put in Sears stores by yearend are NCR Corp. cash dispensers, which cost less and offer fewer functions than standard ATMs.
"Our partnering with retailers allows us to establish many locations and more convenient locations," said David W. Thomas, director of retail distribution for Banc One.
Sears, which operates 820 full-line department stores and 2,500 smaller ones, will place the machines in customer service areas of the larger stores.
Ken Hux, vice president of licensed business for Sears in Hoffman Estates, Ill., said its Rapid Cash machines will enhance customer service.
"We chose Banc One because of its expertise in ATM management and its brand equity," he said.
The agreement is the latest in a wave of ATM expansion sparked by the Plus and Cirrus networks' lifting of surcharge bans in April 1996. ATM owners took that as a green light to charge $1 or more to noncustomers using their machines. Aside from the fee income, machine owners benefit from lower telecommunications costs, because the dial-up software built into the units eliminates the need for dedicated phone lines.
In 1996, machine manufacturers shipped more than 20,000 limited-function cash dispensers, a majority of the ATM equipment shipped that year, according to Mentis Corp., a research firm in Durham, N.C.
Banc One has been one of the most active pursuers of the off-site ATM market. It has struck deals with such retailers as Mail Boxes Etc., Diamond Shamrock, BP Oil, and Dairy Mart convenience stores.
"We're really going at a pretty fast pace," Mr. Thomas said.
Alanna Kellogg, president of Kellogg Group, a St. Louis-based electronic banking consulting firm, said Banc One "is clearly looking for megahits. It is looking for deals that involve hundreds of ATMs."
Though neither the bank nor Sears would comment on the terms of their deal, Ms. Kellogg estimated Banc One would invest $12 million to $15 million, based on a cost of $15,000 per machine, including installation and promotional signs.
James B. Moore, president of Mentis, said Banc One's motivation is clear: "They're in it for the fee, not the enhanced customer satisfaction or service. That whole agenda is clearly demonstrated by charging their own customers a fee as well as charging noncustomers."
He said: "Traditionally, a bank used ATMs to provide greater customer support and convenience in order to retain their customers and franchise. Now the purpose is to generate fee income."
Ms. Kellogg said Banc One was one of the first to go after surcharge opportunities. In 1993, the company started surcharging in Texas, one of several states that passed laws overriding the Cirrus and Plus bans.
"They simply have more experience in surcharging, and I think that makes them more willing to venture into very large business propositions, like Sears and Mail Boxes Etc.," Ms. Kellogg said.