In a management shuffle that appears calculated to speed up its growth, Electronic Payment Services Inc. has tapped Banc One Corp.'s former technology chief as chairman and chief executive officer.
The new CEO, David Van Lear, replaces Douglas Anderson, who has become the electronic funds transfer network's vice chairman in charge of mergers and acquisitions and will report to Mr. Van Lear.
Observers said that the board of directors -- which includes Banc One president Donald L. McWhorter and Terrence A. Larsen, chairman and chief executive of CoreStates Financial Corp. -- felt the organization was moving too slowly in developing technology such as "smart cards" -- payment cards equipped with their own computer microchips.
Had to Do Something Visible'
"There are some very strong personalities on the board, and they felt that EPS had to do something visible," said one banking consultant, who asked not to be identified.
The electronic banking industry was shaken up last year when EPS was formed by CoreStates, Banc One, PNC Financial Corp., and Society Corp. The organization pooled the four banks' automated teller machine and point-of-sale networks -- including CoreStates' MAC -- thus creating a superregional network powerhouse.
But since being granted regulatory approval late last year, the company has focused on linking its networks but done little in the way of expanding its membership or geographical reach.
Competition May Heat Up
Meanwhile, a group of midwestern banks is discussing a network alliance, and Citicorp with NYCE, a MAC rival.
According to industry sources, EPS is involved in discussions -- both to expand its equity ownership and to acquire other networks. Officials of the organization declined to comment on any talks.
Mr. Van Lear's new position puts him back in charge of a major technology company, something he had gotten away from in his last assignment at Banc One. "Technology is a real strength for me," he said.
"Historically, he's proven to be competent on the operating side," said Salomon Brothers analyst Diane Glossman.
After four years as president of the automation subsidiary BancOne Services Corp., Mr. Van Lear was promoted last year to president of the company's state-chartered banks in Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, and West Virginia.
The job was an experiment in creating regional groups of banks at Banc One, Mr. Van Lear said. For the time being, Mr. Van Lear's position at Banc One will not be filled, and the individual banks' CEOs will report directly to Mr. McWhorter.
Before joining Banc One in 1986, Mr. Van Lear was senior executive vice president at American Savings Bank, Los Angeles, and headed Norwest Corp.'s automation subsidiary.
Electronic Payment Services began to look for a new CEO several months ago, after Mr. Anderson and the board agreed to a change in his position, the organization said.
Mr. Anderson has been a key executive at MAC since its formation by CoreStates Financial Corp. in the late 1970s.
And while EPS has been relatively quiet recently, observers said the organization's clout in the industry has not diminished.
"I would not underestimate EPS," said Richard Speer, chief executive of Speer and Associates, an Atlanta-based consulting firm. "It's important to understand they're not another shared network, but an integrated processing company."