Bank United of Texas announced this month that it has switched item processing vendors, turning the business over to Electronic Data Systems.

The Houston thrift, with 63 branches and $8.4 billion of assets, signed a multiyear contract with EDS to provide item processing and related services. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Officials from Bank United did say that cost was not a factor in their decision. Rather, they said EDS offered both greater processing capacity and more item processing locations than its previous vendor, Bisys Inc.

"We had locations in Dallas and Houston. With EDS, we'll add a location in San Antonio and Austin," said Randy Watson, vice president of deposit operations at Bank United.

Mr. Watson said the bank had been shipping checks gathered at its San Antonio and Austin branches to Houston for processing. Bank United had been processing about 2.2 million items monthly.

Mr. Watson said the conversion process took place over a period of five weeks and was completed in late November. In addition to the basic check processing service, EDS will also provide proof/encoding, statement rendering, and other related functions.

Under the contract, EDS will provide traditional item processing technology, rather than the image-based services for statement rendering it has begun to install in some of its item processing centers.

"I'm sure we'll look at it at some point in the future, but it wasn't a determining factor in our decision." Mr. Watson. He added that based on conversations with the two companies, he expects both EDS and Bisys to be ready with full, image-based item processing at approximately the same time.

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