banks that offers image-based check services for corporate customers. Banc One Corp., Bank of Boston Corp., and NationsBank Corp. have recently launched services that combat check fraud and reduce labor- intensive paper processing. Banc One's and Bank of Boston's check services are image-based positive pay, which lets corporate customers electronically receive images of recently issued checks. Corporate treasurers use the service to inspect for proper dollar values and payee names prior to payment. "I think positive pay is one of the best ways to protect yourself against counterfeiting," said Bruce Brett, a senior vice president with Signet Banking Corp., and member of the American Bankers Association check fraud task force. Positive pay and similar measures are necessary if the industry is to cut the nearly $1 billion in check fraud that occurred in 1993, Mr. Brett said. Banc One's service transmits check images using the Internet rather than private telecommunication lines. The Columbus-based bank has teamed up with Open Markets Inc., a Cambridge, Mass.-based technology firm that specializes in electronic commerce software. Bank officials said their concerns with security on the public network were alleviated by a comprehensive program explaining the service's security features, said Karen Myers, a product development manager with the bank. "We have been addressing security with the features and functionality we have developed with our software developer," Ms. Myers said. "We think its a quick and easy solution for corporate customers that issue checks," said John Heller, vice president and senior manager of product development. He said the Internet was an easier and cheaper medium to send large volumes of images on a regular basis. Corporations also need not purchase additional proprietary software. Like Banc One, Bank of Boston has launched an image-based positive pay service called Check Detect. However, Bank of Boston chose private telecommunication networks for transmitting suspect items. The service will send payment files containing exception items that the positive pay software culled from its check processing operations. Corporations will receive these files on-line at 8 a.m. each business day. The first customer is scheduled to go on-line within a month, said Charles Pierce, a product line manager with the Bank of Boston. "When designing Check Detect, we asked our customers to tell us what features they needed in order to guard against check fraud," Mr. Pierce said. Based on those focus groups, the bank has included a security module that lets customers specify which corporate officials are authorized to make certain decisions whether to pay a check. And NationsBank has launched a CD-ROM service that captures all check images from its wholesale lockbox check processing centers. The bank will send corporate customers the images on a weekly or monthly basis. The CD-ROM, which can hold as many as 25,000 check images, lets corporations quickly ferret out checks for reconciliation or customer dispute purposes, and can halve the time it takes to hunt for the items. "Companies today want instant access to information, said Connie Beck, the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank's depository services group executive. "We see this platform as the beginning of many developmental; opportunities to assist our customers in reengineering work flow and achieving greater efficiencies." NationsBank plans to launch an online check service early next year.

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