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Published: Tuesday, 4/1/2008

More debit-card holders use store checkouts as ATMs

BY TED FACKLER
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Use of ATMs such as this at Fifth Third Center in downtown Toledo is declining, the Fed has found. Use of ATMs such as this at Fifth Third Center in downtown Toledo is declining, the Fed has found.
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Wallets used to bulge with cash and credit cards, but more consumers are relying on one piece of plastic: the bank debit card.

Its popularity coupled with increased availability of cash-back transactions at stores are changing how people in northwest Ohio and nationwide do business.

In the past decade, customers who wanted cash had the options of a traditional face-to-face banking transaction or use of an automated teller machine. Now, debit cards allow the customer to pay for a purchase and get cash back.

Four Toledo-area supermarket chains offer cash-back in checkout aisles. Both Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Meijer Inc. allow a $100 maximum cash withdrawal, and Kroger Co. and The Andersons Inc. stores allow $50.

Larry Rector, manager of the Sylvania Township Wal-Mart, said many customers take $20 to $40 in cash at the checkouts. Exact figures on withdrawal frequency and amount were unavailable.

Overall, the popularity of cash-back withdrawal stems from the rise of debit card use nationwide. In the period between 2003 and 2006, debit card use grew 70 percent, accounting for 25.3 billion in payments. In contrast, credit card use grew only 18 percent to 21.7 billion in number of payments.

A 2007 Federal Reserve study found debit cards are the most widely used form of electronic payment.

Toledo-area banks have jumped in.

"Over 50 percent of our checking accounts have a debit card being actively used," said Mark Knierim, spokesman for KeyBank in northwest Ohio. "Besides the increase in number we've seen a 20 percent increase in debit card use in the last year."

The Cleveland bank has 65 branches and 38 ATMs in northwest Ohio.

Just as debit-card use is rising, ATM use is decreasing, said the Federal Reserve study. In total, such transactions dipped 1.6 percent during the four-year study.

Despite this, some area banks continue to boost their numbers of ATMs.

Fifth Third Bank, for example, recently added them at the Shops at Fallen Timbers, at Fifth Third Field downtown Toledo, and at its new downtown Toledo headquarters building. It has 60 in northwest Ohio and plans on more, said Karen Fraker, a bank spokesman.

Contact Ted Fackler at:

tfackler@theblade.com

or 419-724-6199.


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