Central Bank Lets Customers Cash in with ATM Coupons

By Pesek, William, Jr. | American Banker, June 21, 1993 | Go to article overview

Central Bank Lets Customers Cash in with ATM Coupons


Pesek, William, Jr., American Banker


In the seemingly generic world of automated teller machines, some banks have found a way to capture the spotlight in their markets.

The gimmick is coupons: multicolored, perforated advertisements that are printed on the face of ATM receipts.

One institution using the coupon program is Denverbased Central Bank.

"We want to promote a sense of connection between our bank and the local businesses," said Ann Schmitt, Central's vice president of ATM and merchant banking.

Central uses Atlanta-based Automatic Coupon Corp.'s Automatic Bank Bonus program, which aims at increasing banks' ATM volume by providing discounts for wellknown products and services whenever an ATM receipt is generated after a transaction. It also allows the $2.5 billion-asset bank to differentiate its ATMs from the competition.

Central Bank realized early on, and industry observers agree, that having a corner on the ATM market is no longer enough. Banks need to deviate from the norm a bit to stay ahead of the pack and create value for customers.

"Even if the number of machines your bank has outnumbers the rest, it's important to give people incentives to bank with you," said Paul Martuas, president of Martuas & Associates, Clearwater, Fla. "Size is no longer the only issue."

According to Ms. Schmitt, the ATM coupon program - available to only one bank from each market - does just that for Central Bank.

Other banks offering the program include First Interstate Bancorp, Society Corp., and Banc One Corp.

"In a commodity business like ATMs you've got to find pivotal ways to differentiate yourself," Ms. Schmitt said. "The decision to take part in the program was strategic to our ATMs over time."

It's a win-win situation for all involved, said Sherri Kroonenberg, assistant vice president of the 1,200-employee bank's ATM and merchant banking areas.

Banks win an easy method of adding value to ATM transactions, thereby gaining the loyalty of current customers and attracting new users. Advertisers win an easy and effective coupon distribution system. Bank customers win discounts on products and services they know and use.

"It's smart business all around because we're looking to increase transaction volume and revenues and our advertisers are looking to increase sales," Ms. Kroonenberg said.

Retail marketing executives agree that the program helps them reach an upscale audience in a clutter-free environment - when that audience has immediate access to cash.

"We're open to all avenues of advertising," said Andrew Wright, field marketing coordinator at Arby's Inc., Denver. "When the ATM distribution idea was presented to us, it seemed like a natural way to get our message across and get a coupon in people's hands. …

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