Del R. Tonguette, a consultant in New Albany, Ohio, and longtime debit industry executive, died Saturday, apparently of a stroke exacerbated by blood thinners, his wife, Diane, said Monday.
Tonguette achieved his greatest prominence in the industry as the president and chief executive officer of GulfNet Inc., a New Orleans regional electronic funds transfer network for Louisiana and Mississippi. Founded in 1985, GulfNet grew to be the nation's 14th-largest network, with 11 million transactions a month and point of sale terminals in five states, by the time the Pulse EFT Association bought it in 1997.
Tonguette, 72, a former Air Force captain, began his career in banking in 1968 at City National Bank in Columbus, Ohio, now a part of JPMorgan Chase & Co. He also helped start Fifth Third Bancorp's merchant processing division and its network of automated teller machines.
Tonguette was known as an outspoken commentator on industry issues, frequently scolding bankers for turning over the debit processing business to nonbank third parties. Though Pulse was owned by its member banks at the time of the GulfNet transaction, it was sold in January 2005 to the card company Discover Financial Services Inc. of Riverwoods, Ill.
In addition to his wife, Tonguette is survived by his sons, Peter, 26, and Patrick, 23.