Electronic Payment Services Inc., automated teller machine joint venture formed a year ago by four superregional banks, is beginning to consolidate operations into two multimillion-dollar data centers.

This conversion phase is critical because it will provide the cost savings that drove the decision to combine networks.

EPS expects the economies to let it charge lower fees than other shared networks, and to develop more sophisticated technology in areas like stored-value cards, new icon technology, home banking services, and alternative dispensing devices for postage stamps and travelers checks.

Formed in August 1992 and approved by regulators at the end of last year, the joint venture consists of the MAC network, owned by CoreStates Financial Corp.; the Green Machine network, owned by Society Corp.; the Owl network, operated by PNC Bank Corp., and Jubilee and Trinet, operated by Banc One Corp.

Consolidating in Phases

The network is consolidating in several phases. In the first phase, which took place over the summer, it linked all the networks and put them underthe MAC logo. Now, it is converting tile former Owl, Jubilee. and Trinet networks to the technology used by the former Green Machine network.

MAC will remain on the same technology platform as before, but is moving its operations from Philadelphia to a new data center in Wilmington, Del. That move is slated for completion by the first quarter of next year.

Second Site Being Expanded

A second site - the so-called Midwest data center in North Olmstead, Ohio - will handle the other operations. Housed in the former Green Machine facility, it is being expanded with the help of a systems integration company, Sarcom, a unit of Inacom, based in Worthington, Ohio.

By 1995, EPS plans to complete the consolidation of systems and software that drive five separate automated teller machine networks into a single mega-network that will be run out of both sites.

The Wilmington data center will be the main site, driving some 6,000 ATMs, and handling about 45 million transactions per month by 1994, according to company estimates. The network says that the Midwest data center will drive about 4,500 ATMs and handle 34 million transactions per month in 1994. The total cost of building the new facilities is estimated at $26 million, officials said.

Electronic Payment Services is currently moving the operations of the former Owl network to the new data center. It expects to finish that consolidation in mid-November and to convert the other networks next year. The most complicated will be the Banc One networks, which have grown by acquisition and use diverse technologies, says John Barron, manager of the Money Access Service Corp., the unit of that runs Electronic Payment Services' ATM and point of sale networks.

The network expects to have been converted from five platforms to two by the end of 1994. Over the course of 1995, it plans to move to a single technology that will combine Green Machine's back-office settlement and customer service elements with MAC's front end technology - featuring sophisticated ATM screens.

|New Data Base Architecture'

"Phase 3 will be a combination of these two platforms, and it will be a new data base architecture," Mr. Barron said.

Both data centers will handle research and development, although ultimately all R&D will be handled in Wilmington.

Eventually, the network plans to bring its disaster recovery capabilities in-house, so that one data center can act as a backup for the other in the event of catastrophe. That will replace contracts currently held for a hot site provided by SunGard, and it will also replace existing mutual aid agreements with other networks.

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