National Commerce Bank Services is not the only game in town when it comes to advising banks on opening supermarket branches. Its rival, International Banking Technologies Inc., boasts 300 bank clients, including Banc One Corp., NationsBank Corp., Mellon Bank Corp., and Union Bank. The Atlanta company, a subsidiary of First Data Corp., recently opened its 1,000th branch. International Banking Technologies, like National Commerce, supplies a full range of consulting services, including branch design, construction, sales training, and marketing support. While the two companies are tough competitors, a number of banks, most notably Wells Fargo & Co., use the services of both. John W. Garnett, International Banking Technologies' president, said his company had a relationship with the Ralphs supermarket chain, which operates in Southern California, and National Commerce worked with Safeway supermarkets, which has more locations in the northern part of the state. Wells has branches in both chains. One thing that International Banking and National Commerce agree on is the growth potential of supermarket branching. International Banking said there were 3,142 in-store offices nationwide at the end of last year. It's really on fire this year, said Mr. Garnett. I think we'll see 4,000 branches by yearend. And National Commerce estimates that there will be 7,500 branches by 2000. But Mr. Garnett noted that the growth of so-called mini-branches inside stores some as small as 40 square feet confuses the numbers. We have not been counting those, he said, although they will soon begin to include them in their estimates. We think that we will, within a few years, have as many minibranches out there as full-service branches. So it could well double the numbers within a short number of years.
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