Continuing its tradition of 24/7 convenience, 7-Eleven (Dallas) currently offers patrons Virtual Commerce (Vcom) self-service kiosks with financial services functions targeted to customers who are un-banked and under-banked.
Along with traditional ATM service, the kiosks provide customers with the choice to transfer or wire money and make bill payments for various utilities. The one-stop, automated kiosk provides these services around the clock. According to Rick Updyke, 7-Eleven's vice president of business development, as long as the participating 7-Eleven stores are open, customers can take care of their financial needs.
The convenience store chain noticed a need to serve the under-banked market and customers who are looking for a way to conduct financial services transactions after banking hours, Updyke says. "The deployment of these advanced-function kiosks represents a significant market opportunity to offer convenient, 24/7 access to financial services to our existing customers, as well as attract new ones," he adds.
In 2001, The Vcom kiosks were tested in 98 7-Eleven stores in the Dallas, Austin and Temple-Killeen areas of Texas and the Ft. Myers and Naples areas of Florida. Based upon test results, the company began its national rollout of Vcom kiosks in October 2002, with the first deployments in 50 stores in the Orlando, Fla., area. 7-Eleven now has Vcom kiosks in 1,000 of its 5,300 U.S. stores, according to Updyke.
One of the technologies used to offer check cashing services is supplied by CashWorks, a Dallas-based provider of automated payroll and cash checking. CashWorks has partnered with 7-Eleven to offer check cashing capabilities within the multifunction Vcom kiosks.
CashWorks' automated check cashing platform takes an image of the customer's check, transfers that image along with customer information to CashWorks' central decision engine, matches the personal information against a third-party source (usually a bank or fund provider) and makes the decision to cash the check or deny funds. The entire transaction takes a few minutes, according to Will Sowell, general manager, CashWorks.
Because of demand from customers who do not have bank accounts or are seeking to conduct financial services after bank hours, CashWorks has seen a growing interest in its product from other convenience stores similar to 7-Eleven and even from banks that want to target customers who do not have bank accounts. "We have seen some fairly significant growth," Sowell says. "We have grown from about 500 locations to approximately 2,500 locations from the beginning of the year until now," he notes.
"We are able to offer our product through many different distribution channels," Sowell continues. "A brick-and-mortar location couldn't offer this type of product in many locations," he explains.
7-Elevens are also seeing an increase in sales because of the convenience of the services offered by the kiosk, Updyke says. "7-Eleven is uniquely positioned to capitalize on Vcom services because of the demographics of our existing customer base and the large number of our conveniently located stores," he adds.