BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Binghamton Giant Market upgraded its customer bill payment services system in order to speed transactions late last month.
The supermarket is the first partner of electronic payment services company IPP of America, Fairfield, N.J., to move from IPP's dial-up transaction terminal to a faster Internet-based system.
“As a chain we average over 8,000 transactions per month,” said Frank Bucciarelli, director of management support services, Binghamton Giant Market. The retailer has 12 stores, each of which were using a dial-up terminal to offer customers walk-in payment of bills such as credit cards, mobile phones, prepaid airtime minutes, long distance and utilities, using cash.
“Seventy-five financial institutions, from American Express to Wells Fargo, accept payments through us,” Bucciarelli said.
Nearly 40 million households in the U.S. are “financially underserved,” according to the Center for Financial Services Innovation, Chicago.
“We wanted to increase the convenience of walk-in bill payments while meeting the demand for the service,” Bucciarelli said.
With dial-up, each transaction averaged 30 to 45 seconds. With the upgrade, “transactions can now be completed in five seconds,” said Alex Cooper, executive vice president, IPP. Both the retailer and IPP, as the processor, profit from the transactions by sharing a small fee charged to the customer and decided on by the retailer. Binghamton Giant Market charges between $1 and $2, depending on the transaction, Bucciarelli said.
The supermarket has three to four employees trained by IPP per store who handle bill-pay transactions at the customer service desk. “The market is consumers that can't have much access to traditional financial services provided by banks, like checking, savings, home banking and credit cards,” Cooper said.
IPP has about 100 supermarket locations, all of which are regional independent chains, Cooper said. “We do well in both urban and rural environments.”
“This service is not about stealing customers from another store. It is about making customers who might be using money orders or other means of payment aware of this service and giving them another reason to visit the store,” Cooper said.