Price Chopper, the full-service supermarket chain, announced it will begin an electronic check conversion pilot program next month in partnership with San Francisco-based BankServ, one of the nation’s leading providers of electronic check conversion services. The pilot, the first by a large U.S. grocery chain, will take place at the Price Chopper store in Dunmore, Penn.
The company operates 97 super center retail outlets in six states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont.
If the 90-day pilot program goes as expected, Price Chopper plans to install digital imaging check readers provided by Hypercom Corporation (NYSE: HYC), and BankServ’s check conversion services in all of its stores beginning in January 2001.
“This latest technology will streamline check processing for the company, lower operating costs, and will very quickly become completely transparent to consumers,” according to Joanne Gage, vice president of consumer and marketing services for Price Chopper. “We strongly believe that any investment we make in converting to this process will quickly be recouped by the savings we will achieve. Paper check handling is becoming increasingly expensive,” explained Gage. “Electronic processing brings the cost of accepting checks closer to the cost of debit card transactions. In addition, consumers are already comfortable with checks, and check conversion still provides customers with 24-48 hours of float.”
One additional advantage of electronic check conversion to both merchants and customers, according to Gage, is that it speeds up check out lines. “Our experience shows that filling out a paper check can add 30-50 seconds to every transaction,” said Gage. “We are hoping this faster service will further encourage consumers to shop with us. We will be developing educational materials for our customers and careful training for employees to make sure everyone is comfortable with the new procedures. Because our customers trust us, we want the process to be seamless and transparent to them.”
Check Conversion Savings Balance Cost of Installation
Retailers have been skeptical of moving to electronic check conversion in the past because of the cost of installing the equipment, noted Gage. “BankServ, however, was willing to look at our existing costs and come up with a business case that works for us,” she said. “BankServ is more a partner in this project than a service provider. They wanted a win-win situation for both our companies and our customers.”
Paul Rasori, vice president of retail sales for BankServ’s Atlanta-based check services unit, explained, “Processing checks electronically via the nation’s ACH system eliminates the delay caused by having to take paper checks to the bank. Merchants get a faster availability on their funds. They also receive a faster notice on returned items, and they eliminate the most basic and costly problem of paper checks: handling them. In summary, electronic check conversion cuts handling time, automates returned items processing and increases cash flow.”
Roger C. Hitchcock, vice president and general manager of Hypercom’s Multi-Lane Division, added, “Working closely with BankServ has allowed us to easily cost justify new technologies for Price Chopper. Building on the ROI of check conversion, Price Chopper can now take advantage of our new ePic (ePOS-infocommerce(TM)) ICE(TM) 6000 platform, an Internet-enabled, touch-screen card payment web appliance that supports traditional electronic payment and smart card transactions, and features an array of revenue-generating applications such as electronic check imaging and conversion, receipt capture, e-commerce and more.”
How Check Conversion Works
Digital imaging check readers take a picture of the customer’s blank check, capturing the customer’s checking account number and name and address information. Then the check is voided and handed back to the customer. The electronic images will be available should the customer or retailer need them later, especially if the transaction is returned and must be reconstructed for some reason. Customers therefore won’t get cancelled checks with their monthly bank statement, but they will receive a more detailed line-item description of their electronic check transactions on their bank statements.
If an electronic check doesn’t clear the first time, it will automatically be run through again, helping retailers get their funds more quickly. In many cases, this will save consumers from returned check charges, since the retailer will not incur the labor cost associated with check collection. Electronic conversion also reduces the potential for unauthorized use of account information.
Founded in 1996 by CEO Dave Kvederis, BankServ is one of the country’s leading providers of payment solutions for online businesses, retailers and financial services companies. BankServ’s check services unit provides electronic check conversion and information reporting services to more than 2,000 U.S. merchants. BankServ is also one of the nation’s leading check conversion service providers to large and small U.S. financial institutions.
The company’s Internet payments division offers a new electronic check for Internet business built on the backbone of BankServ’s secure, proprietary, brick-and-mortar check data-capture and ACH system. The Internet division also offers a full suite of settlement applications for both business-to-business exchanges and consumer-to-business payments, as well as reporting services for businesses on the Internet. The company’s wire transfer unit processes more than $1 billion a day in global and domestic wire transfers on behalf of more than 50 U.S. financial institutions.
Headquartered in San Francisco, BankServ also maintains offices in Atlanta, Boise, Chicago, Dallas, Lafayette, La., Las Vegas and New York. More information about BankServ can be found online at [www.bankserv.com].
Hypercom Corporation is a global provider of end-to-end electronic payment solutions, including card payment systems, peripherals, network products, software and e-commerce payment solutions that add value at the point-of-sale for consumers, merchants and acquirers.
Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, Hypercom markets its products in more than 70 countries through a global network of affiliates and offices in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Venezuela. Hypercom’s Internet address is http://www.hypercom.com.
About Price Chopper
Price Chopper, a subsidiary of the Golub Corporation, was founded in 1932 by two brothers, Ben and Bill Golub. After years in the wholesale grocery business with their father, Lewis, the Golub brothers laid the roots for “one stop shopping” when they opened the Public Service Market in Green Island, N.Y. The store name was changed to Central Market a year later. The one store grew into an innovative supermarket chain over the next 40 years, introducing S&H Green Stamps and 24-hour shopping convenience to the Northeast.
Central Markets became the Price Chopper Discount Supermarkets in 1973. Golub Corporation today is ranked between 43rd and 45th in sales in the nation and employs 18,700 associates. Employees own approximately 44 percent of the company’s privately held stock. The company operates 97 super center retail outlets in six northeastern states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont. It is headquartered in Schenectady, N.Y. More information about Price Chopper can be found at http://www.pricechopper.com.