Is Gary M. Austin a hero for creating a relationship card that could bring banks thousands of new accounts with interest-free deposits? He just may be. Austin's HERO Inc. is gearing up for an Atlanta pilot test. And he plans totake the card national in 1997.

The HERO card-an acronym for Health, Education, Retirement Organization-was created to help people save money. It can be read by any point-of-sale (POS) card reader and will give consumers a merchant- sponsored rebate with any transaction. The rebates, projected to be about five to ten percent of the transaction cost, would be automatically deposited into an account with the participating financial institution. Account interest, or a percentage of the customer service charge, would go to participating banks.

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