NYCE Chief Taps Far-Flung Markets

In the five years since the creation of the NYCE Network, Alan P. Pohlman, the network's chief, has made his mark as an aggressive strategist with an appetite for new markets.

A brassy advertising slogan, "Money All Over The Place - from Maine to Miami," has won NYCE national recognition. Under Mr. Pohlman's guidance, the network has also gobbled up ATM systems, moved onto markets as far away as Florida, put down roots in the expanding point-of-sale arena, and chalked up growth in a tough market.

On the down side, the banks on NYCE's home turfare reveling in merger mania. The celebration may mean slimmer transaction volumes and declining membership fees.

Benefit Seen from Mergers

But Mr. Pohlman puts a positive spin even on that situation. Bank consolidation has led to the combination of teller machine networks, he said. And in moving to snap up smaller competitors, he said, NYCE clearly has benefited from the trend.

"There will be a loss of volume," Mr. Pohlman said, in one of the most "crowded and congested corners of the country."

But he added: "It is not something that's not absorbable."

In recent years, NYCE has acquired systems and moved into New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida, and New England. Since 1989 alone, NYCE has acquired three systems: Key Services Corp.'s Cashere and Goldome's Instabank - both in upstate New York - and Banknorth Group's 24-Hour Access in Vermont.

Overall, the opportunistic approach has been a success for the network, which is run by New York Switch Corp. Mr. Pohlman is the president of New York Switch. In August, NYCE moved 16.2 million teller-machine and point-of-sale transactions through its switch.

The network's 10,055 machines are used by 18.1 million cardholders, and NYCE's transaction growth has averaged a steady 10% to 15% a year. The modest success has freed Mr. Pohlman to target new markets and develop potential, transaction-building products. For example: a NYCE card with point-of-sale capabilities.

But Mr. Pohlman is not only aiming to adapt NYCE cards to traditional retail outlets, such as grocery stores. He also wants cardholders to be able to pay for train tickets, for example, on the Metro North and Long Island Railroad commuter lines.

Moreover, NYCE likely will be a key bidder in next year's bidding on New Jersey's electronic benefit payment system. The network's primary competitor is expected to be Philadelphia-based Corestates Financial Corp.'s MAC network.

Plastic for Food Stamps

Under the system, terminals in New Jersey would handle both traditional teller machine transactions and plastic payments for groceries by food stamp recipients.

PHOTO : ALAN P. POHLMAN has an appetite for smaller ATM networks.

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