WASHINGTON -- Chemical Banking Corp. said Tuesday that it is joining a consortium of consumer marketing and technology companies to widen the range of products distributed through self-service machines.
The consortium, which includes the prominent banking industry suppliers Electronic Data Systems Corp. and Olivetti North America Inc., will be using devices similar to automated tellers to deliver airline tickets and other documents that are typically subjected to the mail or other delays.
The devices, manufactured by Olivetti, were developed by Docunet Inc. of South San Francisco and unveiled at a press conference in Washington, where the Giant Food supermarket chain plans to install the equipment later this year.
Service at Remote Locations
Chemical Bank in New York plans to incorporate the system in its Bank at Work program, in which it provides services at remote locations as a convenience to corporations and their employees.
Chemical has two New York City customer locations lined up for Docunet machines. Cynthia A. Read, vice president and business director of Bank at Work, would say only that they are a major university and a shopping mall.
She added that Chemical is in discussion stages with other clients.
The development comes at a time when banks and their automated teller machine suppliers are discussing ways to diversity a self-service infrastructure built mainly around the cash-dispensing function. A slowdown in transaction growth has led some observers to declare ATMs a mature, and soon perhaps a declining, business.
Meanwhile, interest has been growing in ATM technology outside of banking, particularly in the travel industry. Some airline companies and the Amtrak rail service, not to mention many commuter railroads, have deployed automatic, card-activated ticket dispensers.
Fulitsu-ICL Systems Inc., the San Diego-based ATM manufacturer, recently announced a marketing agreement with Travel Teller Inc. to market an ATM hybrid for ticket and boarding-pass dispensing.
Chemical Bank and its partners in the Docunet venture expect to build on the convenience and popularity of ATMs by diversifying into the travel, health care, and government benefits areas.
"Our customers have demanded that we push the envelope of on-site services," said Ms. Read. "With this announcement, we have the opportunity to go even further. We can now deliver high-value documents and services to meet customer needs quickly and efficiently, the way customers want them."
Corporate Users Targeted
Like Chemical, Bell Atlantic, the regional telephone company, has entered into a marketing partnership with Docunet and will be targeting corporate users. Docunet will work with Electronic Data Systems, as the network provider, to install the machines in retailing locations like supermarkets and malls.
Among supermarkets besides the Giant Food chain, which said it will install the machines in all Washington-area stores starting this fall, Ralph's is expected to have them in 170 stores in Southern California by early 1995.
Vajid Jafri, president of Docunet, predicts the machines will be in 1,000 locations within a year. He said the system represents an immediate advance in "instantaneous product delivery" - more tangible than the benefits still only promised by the information superhighway.
The machines will initially be used only for airline and train tickets, but will eventually be expanded to offer additional products like event tickets, travelers checks, and cash, he said.
"The potential we see for Docunet to change the air travel industry is a blueprint for what can happen in other industries," Mr. Jafri said.
The Docunets are similar to ATMs in that a user must insert a credit or debit card to start a transaction. The machines feature colorful on-screen menus and graphics to attract users and are easily adapted to offer any type of printed document, said Laura Winter, a Chemical Bank vice president.
Through the partnership with Docunet, Chemical's Bank at Work program - a major source of the bank's deposit growth and fee income in recent years - can offer on-site delivery of travel documents, travelers checks, and event tickets.
The Docunet machines can also be used by human resources departments to provide personalized information about employee benefits. Chemical plans to introduce this function later, after the ticketing service is well under way.
Once Bank at Work clients get used to Docunet, said Ms. Read, the bank may add services like job postings, credit card and mortgage applications, and other banking and nonbanking products and services.