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Targeting the "unbanked" and "unconnected" population, Store 24 Cos. Inc. has rolled out a set of 10 pilot Internet kiosks equipped with cash acceptors in stores throughout Boston.
Searching for new services to draw customers into their stores, some companies such as Store 24, BP, and The Pantry have begun exploring the potential of Internet kiosks. On average, kiosk users are remaining on these systems for three to five minutes at about 20 cents per minute for Web browsing and 10 cents per minute for payphone use. Typical transaction amounts range from $1 to $5. Customers use the kiosks primarily for e-mail and secondly for general Web browsing, although operators generally cite hopes for increased foot traffic as a motive for installation.
By fitting its kiosks with cash acceptors, Store 24 hopes to expand the potential audience for the units. "About 91 million people shop at convenience stores every day ? that's about one-third of the U.S. population. But roughly half of them are 'unbanked'," said Jeff Wootan, executive vice president of FREEosk, manufacturer of Store 24's WebStop kiosks. "In order to use or buy from the Web, these people have only one option: cash."
A recent Nilson Report indicated that more than 28% of U.S. residents own neither a credit nor a debit card. West Chester, Pa.-based MEI will supply the cash acceptors for the WebStop kiosks.