The ATM network began its program last year and has since signed up 13 large retailers, with six now using the system and seven in the process of installing point-of-sale devices.

The Yankee24 automated teller machine network has announced that it signed Stop & Shop Holdings Inc., New England's largest supermarket chain, to its program that allows consumers to pay for groceries with their ATM cards.

Debit card point-of-sale programs, in which customers' bank accounts are automatically debited when they make a purchase, are expanding rapidly. Last week, Yankee24 rolled out a debit card service to 1,500 Mobil gas stations in New England.

While debit card programs have been in place in states like California and Texas for years, they have taken root only recently in the Northeast. A little over a year ago, D'Agostino was the first supermarket in the New York area to accept debit cards. It did so through an agreement with the New York Cash Exchange, or NYCE, an ATM network based in Hackensack, N.J.

13 Retailers on Board

More recently, NYCE has signed up the ShopRite and Penguin Key Food supermarket chains.

Yankee24, based in Wallingford, Conn., inaugurated its debit card program, called Quick-Pay, in February 1991. The shared network has signed up 13 large retailers, with six now using the system and seven in the process of installing point-of-sale devices.

"Stop & Shop is clearly important to Yankee24," said Richard Yanak, president of the shared network. "It is an organization that is very aggressive in the way it presents itself."

Stop & Shop, which is based in Boston, has installed POS devices in its largest store in Johnston, R.I., a suburb of Providence. The chain plans to roll out the service to the rest of its Rhode Island stores by the end of the summer. Stop & Shop does not have a timetable for rolling out to stores in other states.

The store has installed POS devices that also accept credit card transactions in its 20 check-out lanes. The store will only accept credit cards for nonfood purchases.

Deluxe Data Systems, Brown Deer, Wis., is processing transactions for the chain.

4 Million Transactions a Month

Yankee24 projects that its POS volume will 10% of its switched transaction volume by the end of the year. The network's current monthly volume of switched transactions is just under 4 million, said Margaret Steeves, a spokeswoman for the network.

By 1996, she said the organization expects POS volume to exceed other types of switched transactions.

Stop & Shop operates 119 stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

Eventually, retailers are able to recover their investments and lower their costs, once they can attain sufficient volume by getting customers to replace checks with debit card transactions. For a retailer, an electronic transaction costs 31 cents, versus 53 cents for a check, Mr. Yanak said.

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