Money Access Service Inc., operator of the MAC electronic funds transfer network, is bolstering its presence in Michigan.
Since December the subsidiary of Electronic Payment Services Inc. has signed eight banks with 850 automated teller machines in the Great Lakes State.
The most recent deal, last month, was with Old Kent Bank and Trust Co., a $14.2 billion institution based in Grand Rapids, with 370 ATMs and 320,000 cardholders.
In the "southern tier of Michigan, we have a very competitive market presence," said Steven E. Dawe, senior vice president of sales at Electronic Payment Services, Wilmington, Del.
MAC's advances put some pressure on the dominant network in Michigan, Magic Line Inc. of Dearborn. Though Magic Line has far more ATMs in the state - 6,300 - MAC overall is about twice as large as Magic Line, which had been the primary network used by Old Kent.
Peter Finch, vice president of alternate delivery banking at Old Kent, said becoming a MAC member gives its cardholders membership in a larger network, and gives the bank the option of deploying ATMs off-premises in other states.
"We like the direction in which they are headed," Mr. Finch said of MAC. The network is "in a lot of states."
Though Old Kent's machines will still display the Magic Line logo, the bank will route transactions through MAC when it can.
Mr. Finch said the bank is taking advantage of MAC's lower pricing for gateway services - the links to other networks for traveling cardholders - and the processing might of Electronic Payment Services Inc., which drives 25,000 ATMs nationwide.
Recent bank mergers have raised MAC's Michigan profile. Two of the network owners - Banc One Corp. of Columbus, Ohio, and National City Corp. of Cleveland - have made recent moves into Michigan. National City purchased Kalamazoo-based First of America Bank Corp. in March, and Banc One is scheduled to merge with First Chicago NBD Corp. in the fourth quarter.
National City will place the MAC logo on First of America's 407 ATMs by yearend, a bank spokesman said. It will also add the mark to its 182 machines in Illinois, most of which are also part of Cash Station Inc.
When the Banc One merger is complete, MAC may be able to add to its business First Chicago NBD's 520 machines in Michigan and 828 in Illinois.
While MAC makes inroads into Michigan, Magic Line has expanded into states traditionally the domain of MAC. In the first quarter Magic Line signed up a MAC owner - PNC Corp. of Pittsburgh - giving it additional presence in five states. KeyCorp, another MAC owner, also carrys the Magic Line brand.
Magic Line has also bolstered its out-of-state presence by buying smaller networks, like EFT Illinois and Money Mover of Indianapolis.
John Bascom, president and chief executive officer of Magic Line, said there are plenty of business opportunities for the network despite increasing competition.
"We just want to make sure the scale tips in our favor at the end of the day," Mr. Bascom said.
The multiple branding sets the stage for more network consolidation, said Michael A. Strada, a former ATM network executive who is president of Electronic Commerce Strategies Inc., Atlanta.
"The significant overlap of MAC with Magic Line in Michigan and Cash Station in Illinois is the first step in the merging of the networks," Mr. Strada said. "There are just too many market forces leading that way."
Mr. Bascom did not agree. "There are too many players out there" for large mergers "to be logical," he said. "The truth is as the banking industry grows, the networks are growing with them and the traditional boundaries are blurred."