LOWE'S: EYE ON THE FUTURE

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Lowe's Food Stores here has yet to sample EBT but anticipates the taste could be both bitter and sweet.tions on who ultimately pays for losses due to EBT fraud and related system upgrades remain unresolved.Lowe's said it is apprehensive that clear answers have yet to be provided, even as the Southern Alliance of States, a multistate EBT alliance that encompasses all of Lowe's

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Lowe's Food Stores here has yet to sample EBT but anticipates the taste could be both bitter and sweet.

tions on who ultimately pays for losses due to EBT fraud and related system upgrades remain unresolved.

Lowe's said it is apprehensive that clear answers have yet to be provided, even as the Southern Alliance of States, a multistate EBT alliance that encompasses all of Lowe's stores, is set to begin a pilot later this year.

A key question concerns the deployment of electronic payment systems. While most of Lowe's stores already have systems, chain officials fear EBT could mean a costly rollout of the systems to its remaining stores.

"If the people in our rural communities are not demanding [credit and debit] as their method of payment, we are not going to pick up the costs of it," said Herbert Privette, controller

The retailer is also concerned that the issue of EBT-related fraud has not been resolved. As of late December, Federal Regulation "E," which places the burden of EBT fraud liability on the states by March 1997, has not been amended by Congress.

If the states are responsible for fraud-related losses, retailers will probably have to create an intensive identification verification process that could cut into any throughput improvements gained by EBT, Privette said.

"We vehemently object to [EBT fraud] being our burden unless we have in a way contributed to it," he said.