Discover Looks to Free ATMs to Build Volume
In a move to recruit checking account depositors, Discover Financial Services announced a deal with Allpoint last week to offer millions of Discover card holders access to Allpoint branded ATMs.
Discover offers a number of different credit and debit cards under its own brand as well as under the Diners Club brand. Allpoint Network is a subsidiary of Cardtronics, the largest independent ATM deployer in the U.S.
“In the direct banking environment, accountholders may be willing to forgo brick-and-mortar offices, but convenient cash access is still a must-have service. Discover is meeting that demand with surcharge-free ATM access through Allpoint, which brings together two brands known for delivering value to accountholders,” said Ben Psillas, president, Allpoint Network. “One of Discover’s top priorities is providing the best customer service in the business, which means giving card members convenient surcharge-free access to cash,” said Dan Matysik, vice president for Deposit Products. “Allpoint’s ATM network has cash stations throughout the country that our card members can easily use.”
Discover wanted cardholders have surcharge-free access to Allpoint branded ATMs because the company wants to enhance its new checking account program through its subsidiary Discover Bank, according to a company spokesman.
Discover Financial Services launched Discover Bank in 2000 when it changed the name of the Greenwood Trust Co., a bank it acquired in 1985, to Discover Bank. The bank holds the deposits to Discover’s savings and CD accounts as well as the Cashback Checking product, which the company began offering on a limited basis in February 2013 and plans to roll out broadly in 2014, according to the firm. Discover offers FDIC insurance for its savings, CD and checking products.
Cashback Checking depositors earn 10 cents for every debit card transaction, bill paid electronically or check they write.
Discover Financial Services CEO David Nelms touched on the deal when discussing the company’s recent economic performance in a July 23 call with analysts.
“And so together, we are able to offer our customers access to a larger network nationwide of no-fee ATMs than even the largest single traditional branch bank in the country offers,” Nelms said. “So I think it’s a very competitive offering and we will look forward to growing that checking account product in our current customer base this year. And I look forward to sometime next year, launching it broadly to customers beyond the current Discover card holder base.”
Adding the 43,000 Allpoint ATMs in the U.S. to the existing 900,000 PULSE branded ATMs will mean that Cashback Checking account holders will have surcharge free access to 133,000 ATMs, many in convenience stores, supermarkets and other retailers.
CO-OP Financial Services, the CUSO which offers surcharge-free ATM access through its CO-OP ATM program declined to comment directly on the move, but Caroline Willard executive vice president for markets and strategy for CO-OP noted that many CO-OP ATMs still take deposits and Allpoint ATMs do not, preserving a competitive difference for the CUSO.
But a spokesman for Discover observed that the Discover checking depositors have access to their accounts through a mobile phone app that permits deposits to be made remotely, erasing the need for making deposits through any ATM.
CU 24, the other nationwide ATM and POS CUSO, had a similar take to CO-OP’s.
“CU24 does not anticipate any significant market impact in the credit union community,” wrote a company spokesman in an email. “Through CU24, credit unions can gain access to that same Allpoint network along with approximately 25,000 additional surcharge-free ATMs, no matter which card brand they issue.”