First Data Merchant Services Corp. said it has completed the assignment of its merchant sales force to the banks in its alliance program.

The First Data Corp. unit has fulfilled a promise in its strategy to make banks central to its relationships with card-accepting retailers, while First Data performs support and technology roles.

"Each alliance maximizes the assets of each partner," said Roger Peirce, group president for electronic funds services. "First Data brings unparalleled scale-driven processing services and product solutions, and our bank partners bring customer relationships and their branch networks."

First Data has formed merchant-processing joint ventures with 13 institutions: Banc One Corp., BankBoston Corp., Bank of Hawaii, Barnett Banks of Florida, Boatmen's Bancshares and parent NationsBank Corp., Chase Manhattan Bank, Huntington Bancshares, Old Kent Bank and Trust Co., PNC Bank Corp., U.S. Bancorp, Wachovia Bank Card Services, and Wells Fargo Bank.

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