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E*Trade Plans to Offer Wireless Minutes at ATMs

E*TRADE Group, Inc. , which operates the second largest ATM network in the U.S., plans to create the industry's first nationwide system to purchase wireless minutes with personal ATM debit cards. Following a pilot in the first half of this year, a ramp-up of deployment of the wireless account recharge is expected to continue over a 12-18 month period.

E*Trade, which operates the ATMs through a subsidiary of its Arlington, Va.-based E*Trade Bank, is building the system through a multi-year deal with Boston Communications Group, Inc. , which provides one or more of its services to approximately 70 wireless carriers and resellers, including four out of the six national carriers.

The company's software, transaction processing platform, and IVSN make up bcgi's prepaid wireless service offering. Through the agreement with bcgi, E*Trade is able to build upon its financial services by delivering a product that integrates wireless phone recharge technology and channel management.

Using Mosaic Software's electronic funds transfer system, Postilion, and bcgi's XML Portal, E*Trade will make the ability to purchase wireless minutes as one of a consumer's choices while using an ATM. At the end of the transaction, the added funds will be immediately available, and the ATM will print a receipt with the subscriber's updated wireless balance and other relevant information maintained by bcgi's platform.

The agreement will also augment E*Trade's revenue by increasing the number of transactions per ATM customer.

"E*Trade's integrated financial services solution offers customer households expanded access to a growing number of personalized and branded touchpoints that deliver the tools, services, content and products they need to effectively manage their personal finances," said Mitchell Caplan, chief financial products officer and managing director, North America, E*Trade Group, Inc. "Partnering with a leader like bcgi for wireless account recharge further enhances our mutual goal of providing customers convenience and value added functionality through E*TRADE's integrated multi-touchpoint platform."

The bcgi Distribution Technology Partnership Program, established in 1999, is a service that integrates recharge technology and channel management to increase the number of accessible choices for wireless account recharge. The program provides bcgi's wireless carriers with the choice of multiple distribution vendors that offer account recharge through ATMs, electronic point of sale (POS) applications, self-service vending machines, and recharge via the web.

"E*Trade is a trusted brand with premium name recognition. With prepaid being one of the highest growth segments of wireless and the advent of increased digital programs and enhanced features, the need for consumers to easily recharge their prepaid wireless accounts will be greater than ever," said E.Y. Snowden, president and chief executive officer of bcgi. "By offering E*Trade ATMs as new points of distribution to our carriers, we are providing a widespread, secure, and convenient method for subscribers to recharge their prepaid accounts."

E*Trade Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of E*Trade Group, Inc., and is the only pure-play branchless bank to be ranked among the top 12 federally chartered U.S. savings banks based on assets according to FDIC data as of Sept. 30.