Chase Manhattan Corp. has completed the installation of an archive application for check image statements.

The archive, created by International Business Machines Corp., is part of Chase's two-year effort, now half-complete, to convert its entire check processing operation to an image system.

"We are helping to lead the financial industry in starting to use the image as a way to deliver information between banks," said Michael J. Pasiecki, Chase senior vice president. "The archive is a key element."

By yearend Chase expects to be archiving all its check images. The system will give bank employees and customers access to the images on-line.

Archived check images can be retrieved in about 90 seconds. Check pictures stored on microfiche can take days to recover.

By charging retail and corporate customers for access to their canceled checks, many bankers said, imaging systems' cost can easily be offset.

Chase estimated that the banking industry could generate $2 billion to $3 billion of profits per year through check imaging.

Chase, the nation's largest banking company, is gradually improving its use of imaging. Initially it captured images during a repass through processing equipment, but by yearend images will be captured on the prime, or first, pass.

Chase processes an average of 12 million checks a day. Before the imaging project began, paper checks were handled an average of 12 times during processing. Now they are touched six times, and the bank hopes to reduce this to two times by yearend.

The archive can store the images of both checks and statements. Chase has on file about 211 million statements dating back to 1993, and it is adding about three million statements per month. Eventually, the archive also will store seven years' worth of checks.

As more banks move to check imaging systems and exchange images as part of an effort to speed clearing, the industry could reduce fraud, Chase officials said.

"We could stop payment on items before they ever leave the bank," said Vincent D'Agostino, manager of business support services at Chase.

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