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SOUTHERN NATIONAL INTRODUCES ATM CARD AS ALTERNATIVE TO WRITING CHECKS

 WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., Sept. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern National Bank announced today that it is participating with the HONOR ATM network to introduce a new debit card system that will allow banking customers across North and South Carolina to make purchases using their HONOR ATM (Automated Teller Machine) cards.
 Key to HONOR's direct debit point-of-sale system is merchant participation. Southern National is actively enrolling merchants into the program.
 The new service will provide customers an alternative to writing checks, speed up service at checkout, and reduce bad check losses and credit card processing expenses incurred by merchants. In essence, the ATM card works like a check. It can be used to debit the purchase amount directly from a customer's checking account.
 Southern National is the first bank in either North or South Carolina to make the new debit system widely available to merchants across the Carolinas, says Southern National credit product manager Brent Chitwood.
 "A customer of any major financial institution that is linked to the HONOR Network will be able to use their ATM card to make purchases," Chitwood said. "Southern National is bringing this new money-saving technology to merchants and shoppers."
 The HONOR network currently has 4,800 merchant locations in the Southeast and more than 600 in the Carolinas.
 "The growth of this new payment system has been extraordinary, with hundreds of merchants signing up each month," Chitwood said. "In many cases, the only piece of equipment the merchant will have to add is a PIN pad, like what you would see at an ATM."
 Customers, wanting to make a purchase, simply present their ATM card to the merchant and key in their PIN number at the checkout. The HONOR system checks their balance, okays the purchase and debits their checking account for the purchase amount. Extensive education by the public will not be needed, said Chitwood.
 The average banking customer already has the card. There are 18 million ATM cardholders representing 1,000 financial institutions in the five principal states where HONOR operates, including Georgia, Florida and Virginia as well as the Carolinas.
 For many customers, the cost of making a debit transaction is the same as writing a check. For merchants, the cost is significantly lower than accepting credit cards.
 "Point-of-sale is already widely available in Florida, California and the Northeast and it's growing rapidly," Chitwood said. "The next big explosion is taking place right here in the Carolinas."
 -0- 9/13/93
 /CONTACT: Bob Denham, Public Relations, 919-773-7363, or Brent Chitwood, Marketing, 919-773-7362, both of Southern National/
 (SNB)


CO: Southern National Corporation ST: North Carolina IN: FIN SU: PDT

MM -- CH003 -- 1148 09/13/93 09:17 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 13, 1993
Words:443
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