Device Should Expand Use of Tehnology in Hotels and Restaurants

A Toronto-base technology company has introduced a portable point-of-sale terminal that can be used to bring debit-card payment to retail locations where it is yet to be force, including restaurants and hotels.

In the past, most debit card terminals used to process transactions needed to be stationary. This setup has limited the use of debit cards, banking executives said.

"To this point, debit has been driven almost entirely by service stations and supermarkets, but we expect that to change in the next few months," said Stephen Cole, president of the Cash Station network in Chicago.

100,000 Terminals

According to the Bank Network News, an American Banker affiliate based in Chicago, there were roughly 100,000 debit POS terminals installed in the United States last year. Close to 75% of these devices were located in either gas stations or supermarkets.

While the number of installed terminals nearly doubled between 1990 and 1992, electronic-banking executives recognize that the terminal base can only grow so far if POS is so heavily reliant on these two markets

Restaurants are becoming popular as a new source of point-of-sale transactions. In many areas, fast-food restaurants, such as Carl Jr.'s in California, have begun to offer their customers the option of paying with their ATM card.

However, more traditional restaurants with waiters and waitresses, are coming along more slowly because of the logistical problems involved with authorizing a transaction at a dinner's table.

Debit point-of-sale proponents hope to solve this problem with a hand held device that allows customers to use their debit cards and input a personal identification number without ever leaving the table.

The device, which also has keys that automatically calculate tips, is then returned to its cradle by the food server.

Instant Transmission

The transaction will be transmitted immediately to Buypass Corp., which routes the transaction through a regional electronic-funds-transfer network to the restaurant customer's bank..

Authorization is immediate and accompanied by a receipt, which can be given to the customer.

The hand-held device is manufactured by Toronto-based International Verifact Inc. and sold in the U.S. By Buypass, which is the point-of-sale arm of Electronic Payment Systems Inc.

Wilmington, Del.-based EPS is owned by CoreStates Financial Corp., Society Corp., PNC Financial Corp., and Banc One Corp.

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