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Editorial: Quick Cash

Sept. 18, 1996


Quick cash

More area banks should provide ATMs nearby for student convenience, security

The issue:

One bank occupies all the ATM locations on and near campus.

Our view:

Students should look at other local banks to determine which one fits their needs; in return, the banks should provide increased convenience and safety with drive-up ATMs.

Automated teller machines brought Americans that are on the move another way to operate 24 hours.

Having those handy machines placed in malls, outside banks and in other locations loosened the time restrictions for getting cash , making deposits and checking balances.

University students are especially fond of ATM machines for quick and easy cash withdrawals.

Bank of America has created a virtual monopoly on the ATM locations around and near the Baylor campus, with cash machines in the old Bank One booth on Fifth Street, at Rother's University Book Store and in the Bill Daniel Student Center.

Guaranty Federal had the ATM in the student center until this year. The space is now used for the Starbucks coffee kiosk. Those students who picked Guaranty because it had an on-campus machine are out of luck -- and may be even more disgruntled if they don't like coffee.

This is not fair or good for Baylor or Waco. New students who don't know their way around (in short, freshmen) will grab whatever is immediately available and never know whether the bank offers them the best options. In turn, other banks lose business, which hurts the community. Though the Waco economy will not grind to a halt just because Bank of America has conquered the Baylor campus, it does hinder the students' rights to choose from a variety of banks.

Some students may not realize that their home banks possibly will add a service fee if the students use another bank's ATM machine. In addition, like most banks, Bank of America places a surcharge on all non-Bank of America transactions.

Should students decide to do business with another bank in town, they face the danger of being robbed while at exterior ATMs.

With the increased popularity of the cash machine, criminals have adjusted to the trend. They developed a new technique: Wait for the victim to make the transaction, then grab them. The situation is similar to lions lying in wait at a watering hole. The prey look around, they get engrossed in drinking and then the predator pounces.

Americans have even made a joke out of it. In the movie 'L.A. Story,' Steve Martin and his date get in line at an ATM. Standing next to the line of customers is a line of crooks waiting for the each customer to finish. One approaches Martin and says, 'Hi, my name is Joe, and I'll be your robber this evening.'

Banks have been forced to begin warning their customers about safety precautions.

The simple solution to stand-up ATM robberies would be a drive-up ATM. Drive-up machines offer a safer way to do banking after hours. The car provides a physical barrier to potential thieves and makes escaping from a dangerous situation much easier.

No bank on our side of the Interstate 35 offers drive-up cash machines. Only NationsBank offers drive-up ATM facilities near campus. The addition of these facilities would add to the peace of mind of students reaching for their wallets.

As students consider their local banks, they need to look further than just the campus machines to ensure they find banks that match their needs. In the future, local banks should consider installing drive-up ATMs, not only for convenience, but for safety.

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