POS Options Lure Consumers

Consultants and bankers expecting a boom in point-of-sale transactions may take heart from the findings of the American Banker's 1991 consumer survey.

Nearly half of consumers polled for the newspaper by the Gallup Organization said they would be at least somewhat likely to tap the debit features of their ATM cards in shopping malls and supermarkets. More than a third expressed interest in debit capabilities at other retail locations, including gas stations, travel agencies and airport ticket counters (see chart on page 11A).

The results are from a poll in May of 1,007 people across the country. The respondents each maintained at least one account at a financial institution, were selected at random, and were interviewed by telephone.

Supermarkets Favored

Among individual categories, 48% of those surveyed indicated they would be "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to use an ATM card to debit their checking accounts at shopping malls. Supermarkets placed second overall, with 46% saying they would be at least somewhat likely to use a debit card following a spin down the aisles.

But 26% described themselves as "very likely" to use their debit cards at supermarkets. Shopping malls garnered a slightly smaller 24% share among those who expressed a strong preference.

Some other locations also have proven popular. Security Pacific Arizona, for example, has an ATM inside a landmark building that is part of the historic district in Bisbee.

A Sensitive Installation

Getting it there wasn't easy. Town fathers were wary of anything that might dampen tourism in the turn-of-the century copper-mining center. But they were swayed by Security Pacific's promise to design a low-profile installation.

Other preferred, point-of-sale locations in the Gallup survey were fast food restaurants and movie theaters. Among those polled, 24% and 22%, respectively, indicated they would be at least somewhat likely to use debit-ready machines at these locations.

Moreover, at least a quarter of respondents to a recent survey by research group Analytica added to their list pharmacies, department stores, restaurants and convenience stores. The survey polled Southwestern residents for the Houston-based Pulse network.

A few percentage points behind were movie theaters, dry cleaners, and parking lots, according to Analytica.

Mobile Units Effective

But the latter category may be on the chart with a bullet, partly because of the increasing uses by some banks of so-called mobile ATM's. These usually comprise recreational vehicles retrofitted with electronic banking. equipment.

At some banks, experience has eliminated prospective targets for mobile units. For instance, First Citizen's Bank and Trust Co. in Columbia, S.C., has learned that car dealers usually bring ample cash with them to car auctions.

On the other hand, the U.S. Department of Customs in Honolulu requested that Bank of Hawaii's new mobile ATM be stationed at its periodic auction of unclaimed goods.

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