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‘PayPoint’ Begins in April : Arco to Accept Bank ATM Cards

Times Staff Writer

Starting next month, California motorists will be able to fill their tanks and empty their bank accounts at the same time at more than 500 Atlantic Richfield gasoline stations.

A program, announced Tuesday, will allow 15 million California holders of bank electronic teller cards to use their plastic to pay for gasoline and other items at Arco service stations, convenience stores and MP&G; Tune-Up Centers.

The purchase price--and a service charge of 10 cents a transaction--instantaneously will be deducted from the customer’s checking or savings account.

Arco joins a number of other oil companies and general retailers in experimenting with electronic “point-of-sale” purchases. Mobil Oil has terminals at about 2,200 stations across the country and Shell Oil is beginning to install them in several states.

Supermarkets, department stores and restaurants also are moving slowly toward the cashless, checkless system.

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A number of independent gasoline chains in California also have installed such terminals. Bank of America, for example, has arrangements for automatic purchase deductions with Rotten Robbie, Olympian Oil, Quikstop, USA and Beacon Oil gas stations, mostly in Northern California.

Arco depicts its program, known as PayPoint, as a continuation of the company’s “cash-only” policy, begun four years ago when it eliminated its credit cards.

Arco, the nation’s sixth-largest oil company, said at the time that the paper work and credit carrying costs added nearly 3 cents a gallon to the price of gasoline.

“The PayPoint network is not based on credit,” said E. G. Reilly, an Arco senior vice president for marketing. “It simply allows customers to use money in their bank accounts without writing a check.”

Participating in the Arco program are California’s five biggest banks as well as 160 other banks, savings and loans and credit unions. Bank of America will handle the link into the shared electronic networks of the other banks and will receive a fee from Arco. Terms of their agreement were not disclosed.

Arco estimates that 90% of California holders of electronic teller cards--also known as “debit cards"--will be able to use the gasoline dealers’ terminals.

The oil company said it will install two terminals at each gas station and convenience store. One near the gas pumps will handle gas-only purchases and will not issue receipts. Inside the store, a second terminal, which does provide receipts, will allow customers to pay for gas or other purchases or receive as much as $40 in cash.

An Arco spokesman said the 10-cent-a-transaction fee will cover Arco’s cost of handling the individual sale but will not pay for the entire system. The company hopes to recoup its investment through increased sales, he said.

The customer may face an additional charge from his bank. Many banks assess a fee of between 10 cents and 40 cents for electronic teller transactions.


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