Bank ATMs Sell Wireless Airtime

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TORONTO -- Wireless Airtime Direct Corp. has linked up with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce to offer consumers a new direct method to purchase prepaid wireless airtime.


Using an automated bank card from any bank, the consumer chooses the "purchase prepaid" option at a CIBC ATM and then selects his wireless carrier of choice and the amount of time to purchase. The machine then issues a transaction receipt with a one-time-use personal identification number, which is used to program airtime into the customer's mobile phone.


Most major wireless providers -- including Solo Prepaid from Bell Mobility, Fidomatic from Microcell Solutions, Pay As You Go from Rogers AT&T Wireless and Prepaid from Telus Mobility -- have signed on to the service, which is available at nearly 3,000 CIBC banking machines located at CIBC branches and at selected retail locations across Canada.


The payment concept, dubbed Prepaid Direct, "represents a fundamental shift in the way consumers can purchase prepaid products," said Peter Walcot, president of Wireless Airtime, Toronto. "It's the ultimate in convenience."


Walcot said the service has ensured that the PIN can only be programmed once into the phone.


"Wireless airtime is the first in a suite of products that will be sold through the prepaid direct system via banking machines," he said.


Sharon Gibbs, vice president for operational strategy and development at CIBC Electronic Banking, pegged the number of prepaid wireless airtime subscribers in Canada at 1.7 million.


"And that number is expected to grow to 5 million by the year 2003," Gibbs said. "We are excited to team up with Prepaid Direct to meet this growing demand."
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