Diversified Investors Corp. has appointed a former Chemical Banking Corp. credit card executive to head its electronic funds transfer subsidiary, Transaction Network Plus Inc.

Charles B. Keil, a senior vice president in charge of revolving credit programs at Chemical Bank New Jersey since 1989, replaces Howard B. Kesslin, who remains a director at both Transaction Network and Diversified Investors.

Mr. Keil was brought in to manage a merchant processing business that is expected to grow substantially as consumer acceptance of debit point of sale persuades more retailers to accept debit cards.

"Debit's about ready to leap forward, but many smaller institutions [that would like to have merchant debit programs] have been ignored by the larger processors," said Mr. Keil. "Those banks are going to be predominantly our focus."

He will hold the positions of president, chief executive, and director of New York-based Transaction Network Plus.

Independent data support Mr. Keil's contention that debit usage is about to explode.

Average monthly on-line debit transactions have grown 37% each year since 1991, according to POS News, a Chicago-based newsletter. The newsletter predicts that transactions will grow by almost 60% in 1994.

This prediction is based on the huge number of debit terminals installed by U.S. merchants last year. In 1993, the number of debit terminals grew more than 60% from 1992 to 211,000.

This is more than twice the average annual debit terminal growth rate exhibited between 1989 and 1992.

With debit on the rise, Mr. Keil believes that Transaction Network can garner new business from financial institutions that need to provide their merchants with access to debit point of sale networks.

Transaction Network is authorized to be a direct processor of transactions on the NYCE network in the New York area and is working to strike a similar deal with MAC in Delaware.

Transaction Network also handles Visa and MasterCard transactions and is working on an agreement that would authorize it to process transactions from Interlink and Maestro, which are Visa and MasterCard's on-line debit products.

Volume Seen as Vital

"This business is based on transaction building," said Mr. Keil. "Transaction volume is what's going to propel us forward."

Expanding that transaction traffic will come from selling services to new customers; Mr. Keil appears well suited for his new position.

In his last five years at Chemical, Mr. Keil oversaw a unit responsible for increasing the bank's merchant sales volume more than 140%.

Before 1989, he was responsible for merging the credit card operations of Horizon Bancorp into Chemical.

A 1964 graduate of Dickenson College and an Army veteran, Mr. Keil has also served on a number of credit-card-related task forces with the American Bankers Association.

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