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  Press Release

FREEosk Selects MEI AE2600 Cash Acceptor For New Internet Convenience Store Kiosk

Cash acceptance proves key component to increasing foot traffic and in-store sales

WEST CHESTER, Pa., 14 March, 2002 – MEI, the world’s leading developer of electronic cash payment systems, announced that its AE2600 cash acceptor has been integrated into FREEosk WebStop kiosks, which have been deployed in Store24 convenience stores since November, 2001. WebStop kiosks are a new kind of kiosk that feature an advertising screen for streaming video and a touch screen for Internet navigation. Convenience store customers can access e-mail, community information, Web sites, coupons, shop online, and make phone calls using a touch screen, while viewing streaming video advertisements on a separate screen.

Targeting the “unbanked” and “unconnected” population, Store24 saw that it was crucial for the kiosks to be equipped with a cash acceptor. A 500-bill AE2600 upstacker from MEI was the cash acceptor of choice for the new kiosks. “About 91 million people shop at a convenience store per day – that’s about one-third of the U.S. population. And roughly half of them are unbanked,” said Jeff Wootan, Executive Vice President of FREEosk. “In order to use or buy from the Web, these people have only one option: cash.” A 1999 Nilson Report shows that more than 28% of U.S. residents own neither a credit nor a debit card.

Wootan continued, “plus, with a cash acceptor, the convenience store saves on credit card transaction fees and reduces losses due to credit card fraud.” Right now, the cost of a credit card transaction is two and a half times higher than a cash transaction with retailers paying up to 3% of their profits directly to credit card companies in the form of transaction fees.
The primary goals for installing a FREEosk WebStop kiosk are to increase foot traffic and to increase in-store sales. Store24 is seeing positive results in both areas with one product yielding a 33% lift in just the first few months of the kiosks’ operation, according to Wootan. “Store owners can also save on labor costs with these unmanned, self-service sales portals.”

On average, kiosk users are remaining on the system for three to five minutes at 20 cents per minute for Web browsing and 10 cents per minute for payphone use. The typical transaction amounts range from $1 to $5. Customers use the kiosks primarily for e-mail and secondly for general Web browsing. FREEosk expects to introduce additional functionality to the kiosks this year.

FREEosk selected the 500-bill MEI AE2600 upstacker because it has the widest feature set and best record of reliability in the field. “We looked at 4 different cash acceptors, but no one had all the features and record of reliability as MEI,” said Wootan. “Kiosk Information Systems, who developed the hardware for our kiosk, recommended MEI as the best product on the market. And, so far, we’ve had no complaints – no reports of jams or validation problems.”

“We enjoy working with innovators like FREEosk to develop new applications,” said Gail Samota, National Sales Manager for MEI’s Retail Division. “The FREEosk kiosks have been remarkable successful. By equipping them with high-performance cash acceptors, these kiosks transform into all-in-one sales portals.”

MEI is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of electronic bill acceptors, coin changers, and other electronic payment systems for the vending industry. The company developed the first electronic coin validator in the late 1960s and introduced the electronic bill acceptor several years later. MEI has the world's largest installed base of electronic coin mechanisms. Its products are in widespread use in the vending, coin telephone, gaming, retail, amusement, lottery, and transportation industries. The company is headquartered in West Chester, Pa.
For more information on MEI and its products for kiosks, visit the company’s Web site at MEI Global; or call 1-800-345-8215 x2510.

Editors’ note: Embedded photo is a placeholder only. A high resolution or conventional photo print available upon request.

Contact: Chris Henneghan, PR Consultant for MEI
610-269-2100x230
chenneghan@schubert.com



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