KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- The majority of non-tactical Army dining facilities (DFACs) in Germany and Italy began accepting credit and debit card payments Sept. 21.

The project was a part of a larger effort to modernize DFACs across the Army. It has enabled 14 out of 15 non-tactical dining facilities in Europe to offer credit and debit card payments.

"The credit/debit card initiative aligns with the Army's DFAC modernization plan of making our dining facilities more attractive," said Victor Martinez, director, Europe Garrison Food Program, 405th Army Field Support Brigade.

The last non-tactical dining facility in Europe -- the Kleber Kaserne "Clock Tower Café" in Kaiserslautern, Germany -- is expected to field the credit/debit card program by the end of 2018.

More dining facilities in the continental U.S. are expected to follow, said Ricky Gaines, food service system analyst, Europe Region, Joint Culinary Center of Excellence.

The new payment service -- known at the Card Acquiring Service -- is provided through the U.S. Treasury Department. The program accepts cards from all the major network brands including Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover.

"Most federal agencies that already accept card payments must use the Treasury Department's Card Acquiring Service," said Irene Rivera, financial program specialist, U.S. Department of Treasury, Bureau of Fiscal Services. "It does not charge transaction fees to the agency or user."

CAS is not only convenient for users, it also helps to improve auditability of the DFAC's financial system, explained Rivera.

"CAS creates an electronic audit tail and improves internal controls," she said.

The Defender Café dining facility at Rhine Ordnance Barracks, Kaiserslautern, started accepting credit and debit card payments in June 2017.

"The facility was the project's pilot site, and the first Army DFAC accepting credit and debit card transactions," said Gaines.

The pilot site began with processing authorizations over an analog telephone line, resulting in processing times of up to 50 seconds per transaction, according to Staff. Sgt. Albert Ignacio, dining facility manager, Defender Café.

The average transaction time was shortened to eight seconds per authorization after the dining facility was able to connect to landline services September 21, 2018, said DaVida Usual, financial program specialist, fiscal services, U.S. Department of Treasury.

Users of the facilities said the updates increase usability and convenience.

"I prefer paying cash, but it's great to have the option. Not everyone carries cash," said Army Capt. Timothy Brocks, 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command.

The organizations that worked to implement the change included: The Joint Culinary Center of Excellence, the United States Army Financial Management Command, the U.S. Treasury -- Bureau of Fiscal Services, the 405th Army Field Support Brigade and the 266th Financial Management Support Center.