Payments Systems Network Inc, a Maitland, Fla.-based regional automated clearing house association, is merging with Eastpay Inc., Richmond, Va.

Membership in the Florida group had declined to 300 banks from 400 in 1996. The group was having trouble funding its $850,000 operating budget.

"As bank consolidation happens, we have to continue to look for alternatives and strategic plans to continue to meet members' needs," said the group's chairman, Marshall E. Tyner. Mr. Tyner is a senior vice president of BB&T Corp., Winston-Salem, N.C.

Eastpay, with 370 members in three southeastern states, is the result of a 1996 merger of the Virginias Automated Clearing House Association and the North Carolina Automated Clearing House Association.

The Payments Systems Network and Eastpay boards have approved the merger agreement. Membership approval is also required. The deal expected to close Jan. 1.

The two regional associations are among the 35 members of the National Automated Clearing House Association, which sets rules for clearing and settling electronic funds transfers between banks.

Regional associations carry out educational and marketing initiatives and help write national rules. As banks become more national in scope, "I think we will see more of this," said William Nelson, executive vice president of Herndon, Va.-based NACHA.

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