The NYCE and Yankee 24 electronic banking networks have officially consummated their long-awaited merger, forming Infinet Payment Services Inc.

Based in the same Hackensack, N.J., facilities that ho.used NYCE, Infinet links about 15,000 automated teller machines and 25,000 debit point of sale merchant locations. It is the third-largest regional network after California's Star System Inc. and Delaware's Electronic Payment Services Inc.

With much of the merger's administrative work behind it, Infinet now turns its attention to capitalizing on the strategic possibilities that come with operating the largest network in the Northeast.

As expected, Infinet will enter a number of processing businesses in which neither NYCE nor Yankee 24 participated.

"The list starts with ATMs and ATM terminal driving," said Richard P. Yanak, president and chief executive officer of Infinet. But the list clearly does not stop them. Mr. Yanak, an elder statesman of the regional network industry, said that smart cards, home banking, and debit point of sale would be among the top strategic lines of business for Infinet in the coming years.

"Will we and other networks be in these businesses? The answer is clearly yes. The exact sequence and the way in which we'll support them has yet to be determined," said Mr. Yanak.

The degree to which Infinet will participate in each endeavor depends on the level of support requested by the financial institution owners, he said.

While some measure of what the owners expect is clear, more will be decided in early November when Infinet's board of directors holds its first meeting.

One of the most pressing issues facing it will be the selection of a new brand name to replace the regionally tinged NYCE and Yankee 24 marks. The board intends to decide on the new moniker by year's end.

The board also expects to fill several management vacancies by January. The most prominent of these is the chief operating officer position, which was formerly held by Alan Pohlman.

Mr. Pohlman is still handling many of his old duties at the network, but he is doing so on a consulting basis through Carmody & Bloom Inc., Ridgewood, N.J., sources said.

Meanwhile, it is unclear where Gary Roboff, acting chief executive officer at NYCE, fits in at Infinet.

Mr. Roboff, a Chemical Banking Corp. executive, has distinguished himself in NYCE's CEO spot since assuming the job after the unexpected death two years ago of former NYCE leader David A. Huemer.

The institutions represented on the Infinet board of directors are: Bank of Boston Corp., Bank of New York Co., BayBanks Inc., Chase Manhattan Corp., Chemical Banking Corp., Citicorp, Fleet Financial Group Inc., Marine Midland Banks Inc., Natwest Holdings Inc., People's Bank of Connecticut, and Shawmut National Corp.

Each of these 11 institutions are class A stockholders in Infinet. The 122 institutions holding class B stock are represented by two board members.

This tiered structure is part of an effort to give smaller institutions a voice in the network while keeping the board voting process simple.

Mr. Yanak, who served as president of yankee 24 before the merger, noted that members each had a vote on network matters in the association structure at Yankee 24.

Some former Yankee 24 members lament the loss of that direct voice. However, several said that the improved support and product offerings that are expected to come from Infinet will make the forfeiture of their board vote worthwhile.

Since Infinet will operate out of NYCE's data center, which was opened in November 1992, Yankee 24 members will have to convert to the new Infinet systems.

That conversion is expected to be completed by the end of May. When this process is completed, Infinet systems will handle about 30 million transactions per month from 25 million cardholders at 1,300 financial institutions. Infinet At a Glance Headquarters: Hackensack, N.J.Ownership 133 financial institutions * 11 class A owners * 122 class B ownersATMs 15,000POS merchants 25,000Cardholders 25 millionPrimary market: N.Y., N.J., Conn., Mass.

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