WASHINGTON, DC — September 16, 2002 — Food Marketing Institute (FMI) members can now significantly reduce electronic payment costs through a new FMI alliance with Fifth Third Bank Merchant Services, one of the nation’s largest processors of electronic transactions, according to an announcement today from FMI President and CEO Tim Hammonds.

“Retailers of all sizes recognize the competitive need to accept electronic payment card transactions, but they are increasingly concerned about the high prices of handling these transactions,” Hammonds stated in a letter to FMI members. “This important new strategic alliance provides FMI members less costly processing for credit, debit, electronic benefit, stored-value and gift card transactions, and it allows members to integrate check authorizations into payment systems tailored to their experience and customers.

“Independents, wholesalers and regional chains will especially benefit from this alliance. First, we are leveraging FMI’s broad member base to offer lower transaction costs. Second, we are providing alternatives in the transaction-processing arena, which will benefit the entire industry and consumers.

“In addition, the core business of Fifth Third Bank’s Merchant Services group is processing electronic transactions. The company is widely respected for customer service, and it is now positioned to bring that service to more independent operators and regional chains, which comprise most of FMI’s membership.”

Fifth Third Bank Executive Vice President Barry L. Boerstler added, “FMI is an excellent resource for the nation’s food retailers and wholesalers. Their support of Fifth Third Bank’s Merchant Services is a testament to our sound reputation and stability. This is an excellent opportunity for Fifth Third Bank and FMI members.”

Electronic transactions are among the fastest-growing supermarket services. This year, 84 percent of supermarkets accept credit or debit cards, compared with 63 percent in 1996, according to the FMI report Trends in the United States: Consumer Attitudes and the Supermarket, 2002.

FMI’s alliance with Fifth Third Bank Merchant Services is the newest in a growing suite of financial services for members, including in-store banks, electronic check conversion, money orders, financial benchmarking and Web-based management of loss prevention data. For more information, visit the FMI Web site www.fmi.org/partners/.

Fifth Third Bank processes seven billion ATM and POS transactions per year for more than 160,000 retail locations and financial institutions worldwide, including The Kroger Co., Abercrombie & Fitch, Nordstrom, Inc. and The Finish Line. Fifth Third Merchant Services processes over $70 billion in credit card sales annually. Fifth Third Bank has recently moved from the eighth largest bank acquirer to the fifth largest bank acquirer, according to The Nielson Report (February, 2002).

Fifth Third Bancorp is a diversified financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Company has $75 billion in assets, operates 16 affiliates with 921 full-service Banking Centers, including 135 Bank Mart® locations open seven days a week inside select grocery stores and 1,853 Jeanie® ATMs in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida and West Virginia. The financial strength of Fifth Third’s affiliate banks continues to be recognized by rating agencies with deposit ratings of AA- and Aa1 from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, respectively. Additionally, Fifth Third Bancorp continues to maintain the highest short-term ratings available at A-1+ and Prime-1, and was recently recognized by Moody’s with one of the highest senior debt ratings for any U.S. bank holding company of Aa2. Fifth Third operates four main businesses: Retail, Commercial, Investment Advisors and Midwest Payment Systems, the Bank’s electronic payment processing subsidiary. Investor information and press releases can be viewed at www.53.com. The company’s common stock is traded through the Nasdaq National Market System under the symbol “FITB.”