By David Henry
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A decade after JPMorgan Chase & Co <JPM.N> said with great fanfare that it would make life easier for customers by putting its cash machines into Duane Reade drug stores in New York City and Walgreens stores in Florida, the big bank is retreating.
Customers who use the ATMs marked with Chase’s blue octagon logo in those drug stores are beginning to be met with message: “Soon this machine will no longer be a Chase ATM.”
The new message is the public start of a withdrawal that stems from an agreement the largest U.S. bank by assets made in April to sell 2,586 cash machines – primarily in Walgreens and Duane Reade drug stores, and other retailers – to ATM operator Cardtronics <CATM.O> for an undisclosed amount.
The exact timing depends on how quickly the machines can be converted for use under the brand name of another financial institution.
The deal includes ATMs in Walgreens in nine states in total, including stores in Arizona and the Chicago area.
Chase spokesman Mike Fusco said the bank is logging off of the ATMs because it will save money and because customers use these particular machines less.
“It really came down to simplifying the business,” said Fusco. “Our customers are using those ATMs less frequently given that our ATM presence has expanded significantly over the last 11 years.”
Even with the disconnection, Chase will own and operate more than 16,000 ATMs, Fusco said. That is more than twice as many as in 2005 when the bank turned to drug stores to quickly place cash dispensers.
It also has ATMs at some airports, train stations and sports arenas.
Fusco said Chase has ATMs within five minutes of the “vast majority” of discontinued machines because of expansions since it made the drug store deals. For example, in 2008, two years after turning to Walgreens for more Florida locations, JPMorgan picked up 260 branches in its financial crisis purchase of Washington Mutual.
Chase ATMs in branches accept deposits while the store machines it is giving up only dispense cash and show account balances.
Cardtronics is talking to other financial institutions about putting their brands on the machines and it expects to announce new arrangements “later this year,” Cardtronics spokesman Nick Pappathopoulos said in an email.
A spokeswoman for Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc, <WBA.O> which owns Walgreens and Duane Reade, had no immediate comment.
(Reporting by David Henry in New York. Editing by Carmel Crimmins, Bernard Orr)