NYCE Pushing |Scrip Terminals'

Device from Verifone Replaces ATMs in Some Stores

The NYCE regional network is urging some retailers to switch from automated teller machines to low-cost terminals that let customers use their bank cards to obtain cash from a salesclerk.

NYCE hopes that deploying the devices, called |scrip terminals,' will stem its losses from servicing ATMs in stores with little traffic. Customers use bank cards in the terminals to request credit card advances or cash withdrawals. The terminals provide slips of paper that salesclerks will exchange for cash.

Not all regional networks also own and service the ATMs used by bank cardholders. In 1989, NYCE acquired Cashier, which owned and serviced NYCE ATMs.

Ice Cream Stores

Stewart's Ice Cream stores, based in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., recently completed a project begun in April to install scrip terminals in 122 of its 181 outlets. Most of the stores with a scrip terminal had ATMs before. Stewart's will continue to use ATMs in 59 stores.

The Pinstripe scrip terminal used by NYCE is supplied by Verifone Inc., Redwood City, Calif.

Stewart's is the first convenience store in the NYCE region to make the switch to scrip terminals. However, NYCE is talking with other convenience stores about conversions, said Joan Sevarese, a spokeswoman for NYCE, which is based in Hackensack, N.J.

Scrip terminals have also been deployed in retail stores in Chicago, Ms. Sevarese said.

Costly ATM Servicing

NYCE and Stewart's worked together for several years to find how best to replace the high-cost ATMs, officials of Stewart's said. "NYCE couldn't afford to service our long-distance shops," said Gary Hasbrouck, head of money services at Stewart's.

For Stewart's, the cost of switching to scrip terminals is minimal. NYCE pays Stewart's three times more for processing transactions on the scrip system than for processing ATM transactions, in recompense for Stewart's higher labor costs.

Stewart's officials said that, having less cash in the store makes it less of a target for robberies.

The use of scrip terminals instead of ATMs may reduce traffic in the convenience stores. However, Stewart's officials said it was too soon to tell.

Effect on Store Traffic

"We've learned that some of our ATM customers are not regular Stewart's customers," said Penny Heritage, consumer affairs director for Stewart's. For regular customers, the new devices are "not a big deal, but the ATM customers don't want to wait in line," said Ms. Heritage.

Customers can use scrip terminals much as they would an ATM, for balance inquiries, credit card advances, and cash withdrawals. A customer slips a bank card through the terminal, enters a personal identification number and the amount of cash wanted, and gets a slip of paper with the amount printed on it.

When the customer presents the paper to a cashier, the cashier verifies the scrip by keying in the redemption number.

PHOTO : THIS |PINSTRIPE' terminal is being promoted by NYCE as an alternative to ATMs.

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