Another joint venture among giants: J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. are lining up with IBM Corp. to provide digital archiving services for checks. The two banking companies account for more than 18% of the 270 million checks processed each day.

The venture, Houston-based Viewpointe Archives Services, will store check images and make them available online to all banks that choose to participate, says James Dixon, an executive at The banks could provide the images to their customers.

William H. Hoefling, executive vice president at J.P. Morgan Chase, says that the check archiving service will be marketed primarily to the nation's 50 largest banks.

Chase has been working for four years on the electronic archive, and invited Bank of America, the nation's largest check processor, to join it. BofA had been working on its own digital archive for the past year.

Viewpointe claims it has the potential to reduce industry check-processing costs by as much as 30%.

Despite the projected cost savings, some analysts say banks may be reluctant to participate in the service. "If you're a top 50 bank, chances are you're already running an in-house digital imaging service," says Aaron McPhereson, research manager for online financial services at Cambridge, MA-based research firm IDC.

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