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Monday, August 14 12:00 AM ET

Internet Bank to Let Remote Customers Print Cash

By Michael J. Paszkowski

Whitehorse, Canada - The Yukon-based internet-only bank YuBiKon had a problem - how to get cash to its customers, who live in areas that are inaccessible by road for several months at a time. Some were able to reach ATMs, but were annoyed at having to pay extra fees just to withdraw cash. So the bank came up with an innovative idea - let customers print their own.

For a C$100 deposit, users of the service receive a special government-approved mint-standard printer, along with all the necessary special papers and inks. The printers respond to encrypted commands sent through the home PC via the company website, and the whole system is said to be completely tamper-proof.

We spoke to a user of the new printers, Trapper Jean-Michel Vin-du-Pays du L'Herault: "Before I got the printer, I had only two choices when Winter was coming: Stock up on large amounts of cash and risk having it all being eaten by a Kodiak Bear, or take my chances that I wouldn't need any until Spring. Now, thanks to my satellite internet connection and YuBiKon's printer, I can take out only the cash I need, when I need it."

We asked if there were any problems with the new system.

"When I first got the printer, I put the paper in upside-down, and since the security marks and holograms are already on there, it kind of ruined the whole batch, but I contacted tech support and they said to just re-send the print job and do it again, which worked fine. In fact, I haven't even gone back to the website since; I've just been re-starting the print queue. Or you can just turn it off in the middle of printing and when you start it up again, it spits out a page of C-notes as a test."

The YuBiKon press office has admitted there are some problems with the hardware, but added: "As with all new developments in technology, you can't expect it to be perfect right out of the box. So far every one of our customers has reported 100% satisfaction with this new facility."

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Indeed, so popular have the printers become that the bank is extending its program to customers outside the traditional territorial area. It has received strong interest from as far away as Colombia, Nigeria and Russia, though there are no plans at present to expand outside the US.

The demand has been so high that if you wish to open a YuBiKon account and receive a cash printer, you must be referred by an existing customer. The website has already reported huge amounts of traffic which it attributes to the printer phenomenon.

YuBiKon Stock Symbol: YU-BIN-KOND (TSX)

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