WEEHAWKEN, N.J. - Electronic Payments Network announced that BB&T Corp. has switched its automated clearing house payments volume from the Federal Reserve System to Electronic Payments.

BB&T is the second large banking company, after First Union Corp., to have made the change this month. Nine more of the nation's largest banking companies are expected to convert in 2001.

Electronic Payments said it wants to build a private-sector clearing house that would rival the Fed, which now processes more than 80% of automated payments.

"With BB&T joining First Union's earlier switch to EPN, we are well on our way to building an extraordinarily strong private-sector ACH network," said George Thomas, the network's president.

BB&T processed more than 100,000 payments through Electronic Payments on its first day and expects to send all its payments - more than five million a month - through the network within 30 days.

"It is important to BB&T to be part of this private-sector alternative to the Federal Reserve," said Woody Tyner, senior vice president at BB&T and the network's chairman. If banks are to maintain a leadership position in e-commerce, he said, "we need to make enhancements to the ACH network."

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