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ClearingHouse, WesPay To Merge

NEW YORK-The Clearing House and the Western Payments Alliance (WesPay) have signed a letter of intent to combine their checking services functions and create a national check clearing and settlement organization.

The Clearing House, through the National Check Exchange, processes four-million transactions per day totaling $7.8 billion for its 35 participants in the Northeast.

WesPay's checking services function clears more than seven-million transactions totaling $7 billion in daily value among its 21 participants primarily in the western U.S.

"The proposal is an important step, especially in the face of Check 21," said Dennis Toda, Vice President, Operational Integrity of WesCorp FCU and Chairman of WesPay. "It provides the scale and efficiency of a strong national system with a regional touch."

The two organizations said the potential merger reflects the annual 3% to 5% decline in paper check volume as payments are becoming increasingly electronic.

The passage of Check 21, which allows for images to be exchanged instead of paper, is expected to accelerate the decline in the number of paper checks processed.

Two Deere Co. CUs Plan Merger

WATERLOO, Iowa-John Deere Community Credit Union, the state's largest credit union, said it has agreed to merge with Deere Community Credit Union in nearby Ankeny, creating a credit union with almost $1 billion in assets and serving almost 120,000 members.

The combination will allow the new credit union to better compete in the Des Moines metro area and to add new branches.

The merger, which must be approved by members of both credit unions as well as NCUA and state regulators, is scheduled to be completed June 1, 2004. The new institution will be known as John Deere Community Credit Union.

Colo. Regulator Gets Nod

DENVER-The Colorado Division of Financial Services, which oversees the state's 76 state chartered credit unions, was given a vote of confidence last week when a panel reviewing it for potential Sunset recommended it remain independent from the state Division of Banking for the next nine years.

The Sunset Review Commission made several other recommendations, including reducing the public notice requirement for expansions and conversions to community charters; updating the state's reserve requirements in light of NCUA's net capital rules for federally insured credit unions; and to require all state chartered credit unions to notify the DFS when opening or closing a branch, as is required for banks and s&ls.

"Probably the biggest issue for credit unions is the recommendation to continue the division, instead of merging it , and to continue its responsibilities," David Paul, DFS Commissioner, told The Credit Union Journal.

The recommendations must now be acted on by the legislature.

Man Charged In Fraud Attempt

BARTLESVILLE, Okla.-A 22-year-old local man was charged with using a computer at the public library to attempt to set up a credit card account at 66 FCU with a stolen checking account number. Andy Risley told police that he randomly chose numbers that would match a checking account at the credit union in order to withdraw funds to establish a $10,000 line of credit. Police began investigating after receiving a report from a resident who said $389.75 was withdrawn form his credit union account without his permission.

CO-OP Adds New Functionality

ONTARIO, Calif.-The CO-OP Network is test-piloting advanced functionality for its ATMs that will allow users to buy movie tickets, buy prepaid phone minutes and order flowers. The system provided by NCR's iATMglobal, is being tested at California Center CU in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. ATM users pay a charge of $.75 to order movie tickets up to three days in advance via iATMglobal and its partner Movietickets.com. The CO-OP hopes to deploy the new functions systemwide over the next few months.

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