The credit card unit of Chase Manhattan Corp. has bought an image-based remittance processing system for its new credit card operations center in Tempe, Ariz.

Chase Manhattan Bank (USA), Wilmington, Del., bought the imaging system from TRW Financial Systems Inc., Berkeley, Calif. The system, which will enable the Tempe facility to use computer images of credit card sales receipts in balancing and posting operations, is to be installed by fall.

Disaster-Recovery Capability

Though the system is virtually identical to one Chase bought in 1989 for its main processing facility in Delaware, the addition is significant in that it will let Chase handle disaster recovery on its own rather than contracting with a third party.

In the event that processing is interrupted at one site by a natural disaster or some other emergency, the other system can temporarily handle all credit card processing for the bank, Chase officials said.

In addition, construction of the Tempe facility will let Chase speed the processing of account payments from cardholders in the western states.

Observers said this capability will be particularly important as Chase continues its strategy of growing its credit card business.

In recent years, Chase has bought the credit card portfolios of a number of financial institutions, including Michigan National Corp.'s credit card assets in 1989.

Observers said construction of the new processing center is a sign that Chase may be looking for similar acquisition opportunities.

Speedier Posting

"The new system positions us for future growth," said Robert Heaney, president of Chase's Wilmington-based credit card unit, "but it is equally important that the Tempe site will enable us to post to the accounts of our western cardholders more quickly."

Starting about Jan. 1, the Delaware site will handle about 60% of the bank's credit card processing, and Tempe will process the rest. Over time, more processing will be moved to Tempe, Mr. Heaney said.

The Tempe site remains under construction. When completed this year, it will house a full range of credit card processing functions, including statement production, collections, and customer service.

Chase is looking into installing a system to print image-based customer statements similar to those used by American Express Co., Mr. Heaney said. But Chase has no plan to buy such a system soon, he said. TRW made the system used by American Express.

"We are always looking for ways to leverage our image capabilities to improve service, and image statements may eventually be part of that effort," said Mr. Heaney.

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