BankMate, the regional electronic banking network owned by MasterCard International, has absorbed the remaining 30 members of the Kansas Electronic Transfer System.
As networks continue to fold, smaller operations may be at risk of becoming obsolete, network executives and analysts said, as they fail to provide the services needed by banks at competitive prices.
"Institutions weigh heavily on the bottom line," said Richard C. Schopf, president of the Kansas network, known as Kets. Small networks, he said, lack the volume to support lowering transaction processing costs.
"The pressure has been on us since we started in 1983 to continually lower fees and keep the quality high," Mr. Schopf added.
Kets will deliver 100 automated teller machines and 93,000 cards to the far-bigger BankMate. The networks classify the deal as a simple conversion of membership, not a merger. And, they say, no regulatory approvals are necessary.
Over the years, 29 members of Kets had migrated to BankMate, which has more than 700 members and a presence in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.
Getting access to the BankMate network, with 3,200 ATMs and 4.2 million cards, is a good opportunity for Kets members "from an economic, coverage, and product standpoint that raises the value of their card programs," said Mr. Schopf.
At its peak, Kets had 65 members.
Though the deal does not represent a significant expansion for BankMate, David Gerst, vice president of marketing, said it "strengthens our presence in certain markets."
The Kansas network will be dissolved by the end of August when the conversion to BankMate is completed.
Mr. Schopf is one of four Kets employees who will be looking for a new job.
Kets outsourced its processing to Deluxe Data. Mr. Gerst said the BankMate platform is identical, making a seamless transition for members.
Richard T. Robida, senior executive vice president of Speer & Associates, an Atlanta-based consulting firm, said the move made sense for Kansas bankers. "BankMate is an established brand, and MasterCard has given them some credibility."
Though the conversion will remove another competitor from the marketplace, price is the determining factor, Mr. Robida said, and that ultimately will be better for consumers.
He added that Kansas bankers needed to align themselves with a larger network. "BankMate is their best shot at getting some critical mass."