Triton Systems Inc. has just made it a little easier for banks to include its cash dispensers in their ATM networks.

They will now be able to monitor Triton machines with a system widely used for tracking the status of far-flung ATMs.

That system, owned by Gasper Corp., serves more than 50% of the ATMs nationwide. It helps deployers gauge such variables as machine malfunctions, downtime, and response times of service personnel.

Triton's president, Ernest Burdette, said a partnership with Gasper has enabled his company to "achieve the level of automated ATM network control required for both low operations cost and high customer availability."

Surcharge income and the low cost of dial-up technology, which connects most Triton machines, have fueled rapid growth in shipments of cash dispensers. Last year Diebold ranked first, shipping 11,454 of them nationwide. NCR shipped 9,170 and Triton 7,739, according to The Nilson Report.

Most Triton miniATM cash dispensers go to nonbanks, such as retail stores. But now the company is hoping to chip away at NCR's and Diebold's dominance with banks.

Large-bank orders for off-premises machines have declined at both NCR and Diebold; the slide has been been attributed to pending mergers and other system priorities, such as year-2000 compliance requirements. Diebold said in June that it had to lay off more than 600 workers.

But Triton, based in Long Beach, Miss., thinks the Gasper connection can help it buck the trend, Mr. Burdette said.

"This addition of health monitoring is a major step in bringing dial-up on par with leased lines in every respect," he said.

Dial-up lines can cost $20 to $40 a month, versus $450 for a dedicated leased line. Even for banks, which traditionally use higher-quality, dedicated lines for branch ATMs, the relatively low volumes generated by off-site machines have dictated a move toward dial-up technology.

Though dial-up does not provide the constant monitoring capabilities of lease lines, software is available to mimic the higher-quality communication by sending frequent updates to a host system when errors occur.

Still, large deployers prefer to streamline their monitoring through a sort of one-stop shop handling all ATMs. Now that Triton machines can be monitored by the Gasper system, banks could be more open to buying them.

"It's a breakthrough for Triton, in that it creates a level playing field on this single factor," said Alanna Kellogg, president of the Kellogg Group, an electronic banking consulting firm in St. Louis.

The Triton-Gasper partnership is mutually beneficial and will "allow Triton to more easily integrate its dial-up ATMs into large networks," said David Gasper, president and chief executive officer of the Dayton, Ohio- based company.

Gasper said it will soon enter into a similar arrangement with Tidel Engineering Inc., which manufactures cash dispensers in Carrollton, Tex.

Under the arrangement with Gasper, information about problems with Triton machines can be automatically entered into the Gasper system. Until now, Triton problems have been displayed on a separate computer screen; deployers using Gasper had to key the data manually into the Gasper system, as well as use different procedures and reports for Triton cash dispensers and other ATMs.

For an ATM deployer, "it's important to use the same measurement system as used for other ATMs," Ms. Kellogg said. "You can compare apples to apples."

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