Chase Manhattan Corp., which has been encouraging retail customers to use debit cards, is now promoting a similar product for small businesses.

The MasterCard-branded Chase Business Banking Card can be used both at automated teller machines and the point of sale. One bonus is $5 off purchases of $25 or more at Staples office supply stores.

"We think this is one of the ways we can make the lives of small businesses easier," said Leonard Walker, senior vice president of the commercial and professional banking group at Chase Manhattan.

Targeted to businesses with under $3 million in annual revenues, the card is meant as an alternative to petty cash or paper checks. Chase Manhattan began mailing cards to 10,000 small-business customers at the beginning of March, and Mr. Walker expects the program's numbers will "go up from there."

Promotions for the product will "focus on the convenience of the card and its capability to link directly to your checking account," Mr. Walker said. Later, the bank hopes to give customers "better information" about their spending habits.

By tracking "where and how businesses are using the card, we may be able to share with them some things that might be of interest about usage and timing," Mr. Walker said.

Since the bank introduced its personal debit card for retail customers in 1997, 1.6 customers have made more than 19 million purchases, exceeding Chase's expectations.

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