To help banks reduce costs while increasing fee income in the self-service area, Diebold Inc. has developed a series of advanced features that upgrade the company's InterBold i Series line of automated teller machines.

The upgrade, called the ix Performance Package, is a mixture of hardware and software - including a more powerful Intel Corp. 486DX/2 microprocessor - which enables InterBold ATMs to run such applications as check imaging and photo-quality graphics. The ATMs can also be equipped to print account statements. loan applications, and other documents.

The upgrade package, which was introduced in Europe last spring, will debut in the United States at the Retail Delivery Services conference in Phoenix on Wednesday.

Ronald A. Marguglio, director of financial industry marketing at Diebold, said the upgrade "can help financial institutions capitalize on rising consumer demand for automated services."

Not only do customers want additional ATM services, they are willing to pay for them, notes a recent study by Mentis Corp.

The Salisbury, Md.-based research group - which surveyed 800 households nationwide in the fall of 1993 - found that nearly half of ATM users said they would use advanced functions such as statement printing, buying stamps, cashing checks, receiving account information, and ordering new check books. Of these users, half said that they would be willing to pay for these services.

Banks can also benefit from the reduced costs that come from transferring the delivery of services from tellers and customer service representatives to ATMs, said Mr. Marguglio. "It is less expensive to off-load these services to an automated device," he said.

The imaging enhancement will eventually allow banks to use ATMS as additional input devices into check processing systems, said John Stroia, Diebold's marketing manager for the financial industry. Checks will be truncated at ATMs, enabling banks to eliminate paper and the associated processing costs, he said.

The graphics capabilities will enable banks to cross-sell their products.

Some financial institutions may even sell time to merchants so they can run their commercials on the screen while a customer is waiting to complete a transaction, said Mr. Stroia.

The check-imaging feature has been available in present i Series machines since 1991. Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank Corp. is one of the largest users of this function, with over 100 ATMS equipped with the imaging module, said Mr. Stroia. With the new processor, all the functions run much faster, he said.

The new package is offered as an option on new i Series machines, and as an upgrade to existing i series Atms and MDS units, an i Series predecessor. This allows financial institutions to take advantage of the latest technology while preserving their initial investments, said Diebold officials.

"Existing machines can be upgraded for from 30% to 75% of the cost of a new machine," said Mr. Stroia.

U.S. financial institutions have saved more than $50 million since 1990 by upgrading their existing Diebold ATMS to i Series rather than replacing them, company officials said.

More than 25,000 i series machines are currently deployed, Mr. Stroia said.

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