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'Reverse ATMs' help the unbanked pay bills

Oct 11, 2012 Sean Albert

The number of consumers who prefer alternative credit sources to traditional financial institutions is growing. In fact, a recent report from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found that more than 10 million households are "unbanked." However, the lack of a traditional bank account can create problems, especially when paying bills. A new trend among MAPCO Express convenience stores may help alleviate this problem, The Nashville Ledger reports. Thirty-seven MAPCO stores across Nashville and Memphis have been testing "reverse ATMS," i.e. machines that collect customers' money to pay for bills, including those for electricity, gas and cable TV, the newspaper explains. "We've seen many examples of once a bill-paying machine has gone up in the store, people return," Rob Goehring, chief marketing officer at TIO, told the paper. "They're like a returning visitor. They come back and transact there one, two, three, four times a month." The machines have been overwhelmingly placed in neighborhoods where people with a higher preference for cash live, including the underbanked or those without access to online banking services.