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Banks chase retail partners

BANKS are falling over each other in a bid to align themselves with major retail chains and, in the process, beat off competitors.

In recent months, pharmacists, newsagents, post offices and supermarket chains have been in the sights of the banks.

Commonwealth Bank has joined forces with Woolworths to launch the Ezybank network.

More recently, BankWest and the Australian Newsagents Federation joined forces to enable people to pay bills at newsagents across Australia.

The service will commence with a pilot group of fifty newsagents in WA before being rolled out across the country.

BankWest expects the service to be available to 1,000 newsagents by December 2000.

The ANF currently has 3,800 members, including 370 in WA.

BankWest head of electronic commerce Marcus Stafford said the alliance was a win-win situation for the bank, newsagents and customers.

“This is a great opportunity for BankWest because it gives us access to a national network that is established and trusted by the community at large, and also allows us to tap into the potentially lucrative bill payment market.”

ANF CEO John Howie said the opportunity for newsagents to enter the bill payment market was very attractive.

“Newsagents will be able to generate extra earnings in commission income and, by offering an expanded range of services, have the potential to drive more traffic to their stores,” Mr Howie said.

In a separate deal, Australian Teller Machines Pty Ltd has made a deal with the Caltex National Franchise Council.

ATM has won endorsement as the preferred supplier of ATMs to the Ampol-Caltex national network of franchises.

ATM will supply machines to over 800 locations across Australia.

According to ATM, the deal spells the demise of EFTPOS facilities in small businesses.

Caltex National Franchise Council chairman Richard Kaucic said ATM had negotiated a significantly better offer than the major banks.

“Using an ATM network provides convenience for our customers, is more time efficient for staff and reduces security problems and costs associated with bank-related EFTPOS transactions,” Mr Kaucic said.

“ATM also brings considerable operating knowledge from the US and state of the art technology from Wincor Nixdorf.

“In the future, these machines will be web-enabled to provide Internet access, phone cards, video advertising and even airline tickets, which will provide a further income stream for our franchise owners,” he said.

ATM director Ric Webb said ‘extra cash’ withdrawals using EFTPOS was a financial and time burden for businesses.

“Why pay the banks money, when you can generate additional income for yourselves?

“The two options available to Caltex franchisees include free installation of an ATM with a return of 25 cents for every withdrawal transaction or franchise owners can purchase an ATM machine for $32,500.

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