BETHESDA, Md. – ATM National's Allpoint Network, the upstart network which is surcharge free to cardholders, celebrated its one year launch anniversary on April 2, and organizers said that they have been pleased at how popular the idea has proven among credit unions. "I would say that we are right on track with our expectations in regard to credit unions," said Steven Karp, executive vice president with the Network. He reported that the Network has between 25 and 40 credit unions signed up in the first year but refrained from commenting for the record about how many cardholders that represented. One of the most recently announced Allpoint credit union participants is the $198 million Mid-Atlantic credit union, headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Sharon Simpson, vice president of marketing for the CU said that Allpoint became attractive after the credit union expanded its field of membership to include all of Montgomery County and had to compete with a larger regional bank which had ATMs in many area supermarkets. "With Allpoint we were able to offer a wider ATM presence in the new space," Simpson said. Allpoint' uses a slightly different pricing model than does other surcharge free arrangements. The firm negotiates a price for its surcharge free service on the basis of how many cardholders the credit union or community bank will enroll then passes most of that income on to the machine deployers. The arrangement works from the credit union's point of view because it allows them to offer surcharge free access to a large number of ATMs without having to make their own ATMs surcharge free or even having ATMs. Deployers like the approach because it gives them a steadier and more certain income stream than they would have had otherwise. Simpson said Mid-Atlantic has about 20,000 members and that the credit union also negotiated a price for its participation, but she declined to reveal the details of the negotiations. Karp pointed to the addition of the $6 billion Pentagon FCU and the $1.1 billion SEFCU as key parts of the network's growth. He pointed out that the industry puts such a high premium on having a track record that, when a firm is just starting out, it gaining the acceptance of bigger players is vital to earning broader acceptability.

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