Vital Processing Services has signed a long-term merchant processing agreement with First Citizens Bank of Raleigh, N.C.

The $9 billion-asset First Citizens will consolidate its merchant- acquiring business with Vital, relying on its full line of point of sale and portfolio management services.

First Citizens already had 75% of its merchant POS business with Vital, a joint venture of Visa U.S.A. and Total System Services Inc. Some 8,000 other accounts will be converted by October.

"The trend toward single-source processing relationships continues," said Fred O. Gumbel, president and chief executive officer of Vital.

The move "signifies our confidence in Vital as a lasting entity in the merchant processing marketplace," said Wayne Duncan, executive vice president of retail lending at First Citizens.

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