KUALA LUMPUR - Eight bank members of the Malaysian Electronic Payment System (MEPS) shared network have increased their ATM  operating hours to 20.

Machines owned by the banks -- Affin Bank, Alliance Bank, Bank Rakyat, Bumiputra-Commerce Bank, Eon Bank, Malayan Banking, RHB Bank and Southern Bank-- are now in operation from 4 a.m. to midnight, according to a report in The Star.    

The remaining MEPS members -- AmBank Group, Bank Islam, Bank Muamalat, Hong Leong Bank and Public Bank -- are scheduled to extend their operating hours by the end of 2004.

MEPS was jointly set up by 14 financial institutions and includes 10 anchor banks and two Islamic banks with a total of 12 million ATM cardholders. 

MEPS is reportedly working with its counterparts in three Asian countries – Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand – to develop a regional switch by 2005.  

MEPS signed an agreement with PT Artajasa Pembayaran Elektronis of Indonesia earlier this month to provide cross-border ATM network services. (See related story Banks offer members reciprocal access in Malaysia, Indonesia)

It is in preliminary talks with Singapore's Network For Electronic Transfers (S) Pte Ltd (NETS) and an unnamed company in Thailand to form similar arrangements, according to the Star.

Once established, the switch will enable member banks' cardholders to use ATMs for withdrawals, funds transfer and other transactions in the participating countries.  

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