MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The steadily percolating U.S. ATM market has drawn a new player to the table, giving credit unions yet another set of options for how to structure their ATM fleet and usage. Elan Finacial Services, the wholly-owned subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp, has combined its two existing ATM networks into one and sharply expanded it, giving the new network a range and scope that will make Elan yet another significant player in the market for ATM networking, the company said. “Our goal is to be a major player on the U.S. ATM stage,” said Troy Cullen, national sales director for the firm, which also buys credit union credit card portfolios and provides ATM transaction and debit processing. “We think our processing arm and the advantages we can offer by way of pricing will make us a logical choice for an increasing number of credit unions,” he said. Previously, Elan had two existing networks, FastBank, which has been primarily based in the upper Midwest, and Minibank, which has had machines mostly in the Southwest. Together the two networks had about 1,000 machines that performed adequately but without the growth that Elan had hoped, Cullen explained. “We looked at the networks and at the overall market for ATMs in the U.S. and decided there was room to fill a niche,” he said. The new network will be branded as Fastbank and will have about 7,400 machines as of October 1, Cullen added. In addition to the greater number of machines and locations, Cullen explained that Fastbank will also offer financial institutions, credit unions in particular, access to its surcharge-free subsidiary, which will start with 3,400 of the 7,400 machines. Elan has structured participation in Fastbank Free in much the same way as CO-OP Network has structured its networking arrangement, Cullen said. “We noticed that most of the ATM energy in the country is devoted to signing up ATM deployers,” Cullen said. “We decided to go after ATM card issuers.” Financial institutions joining Fastbank Free will have to make at least part of their ATM fleets surcharge free to other Fastbank Free network members, Cullen explained. If a credit union has less than 50 on-premise ATMs, all of the credit union’s on-premise machines and up to half of machines deployed off-premises will have to be surcharge free to Fastbank Free cardholders. If a credit union has more than 50 on-premise machines, all of its on-premise machines have to be surcharge free to Fastbank Free cardholders and as many of its off-premise machines as it wants can be, but do not have to be, Cullen explained. He admitted that most of the credit union members of Fastbank Free would fall into the first group. Cullen said that one of Fastbank’s most attractive marketing elements was liable to be its in-house processing with Elan Financial Services and the cheaper rates of interchange processing offers. A market where a good or service is becoming more of a commodity, he explained, is going to be a market more sensitive to price, he said. “And there aren’t many people who can beat us on price,” he said. Fastbank’s charge for cash withdrawal will be 35 cents per transaction, Cullen said, which is among the lowest, if not the lowest, in the industry. Fastbank will also be able to offer its financial institution members 2,500 machines that take deposits and the firm will only charge $1.50 for taking the deposits. The suggestion that Elan provides the cheapest ATM and debit interchange rates in the country got a boost after NAFCU Services Corp. added the company as its Preferred Partner in processing debit transactions that authenticate with a personal identification number as well as ATM transactions. This means that NAFCU member credit unions that have Elan process their ATM and debit transactions will receive a 21% discount on the processing charges for those transactions. Keith Nolan, CEO of NSC, said that in the ever changing world of ATMs and ATM processing, Elan had offered the members of the NSC credit union advisory council a mix of price and stability that they couldn’t pass up. The advisory council, which helps NSC choose the products and services that it endorses, includes credit union executives from a wide variety of disciplines and sized institutions, Nolan explained. “In the end, nobody could beat the Elan package.” Cullen acknowledged that everything seems possible in the beginning and Fastbank is only a couple of weeks old. But he also pointed out that the response they had gotten from participating in just two credit union conferences had been very encouraging. “Six credit unions in three weeks have expressed interest in moving forward with us to the next step,” he said. [email protected]

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