In a move to bolster its position as a top cash management bank, BankAmerica Corp. has opened a wholesale lockbox processing site in Dallas.

The new site complements the company's growing network of lockbox processing and collection points around the country.

"This gives us enhanced product capabilities for not just our Texas- based customers, but also some national customers who may be receiving many payments out from this region," said Shawn Rudisill, a vice president with Bank of America Texas.

The San Francisco-based banking giant now operates lockbox facilities in Charlotte, N.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, and its home city.

The move steps up competition in an already tough business populated by service providers such as First Chicago Corp.; NationsBank Corp., Charlotte, N.C.; CoreStates Financial Corp., Philadelphia; and Mellon Bank Corp., Pittsburgh.

Lockbox is a cash management service in which banks collect incoming check payments on behalf of clients and send the payments to centralized processing points to speed up the collection of receivables.

Wholesale lockbox, which covers business to business check payments, is typically a profitable line of business for the large players. But it tends to be more labor intensive than retail lockbox, because wholesale services often involve the reconciliation of multiple invoices or purchases.

BankAmerica, which gained a Texas presence through 1991 acquisitions, obtained a sizable share of the lockbox processing business when it acquired Continental Bank Corp. last year. The Chicago bank had lockbox processing sites in its home city and Charlotte.

Larry Forman, a cash management consultant with Ernst & Young in New York, said BankAmerica is a large lockbox processor in California, but the acquisition of Continental - now known as Bank of America Illinois - made them a more national player, which has "made them think more about networks."

"Texas is a natural niche that was missing," said Mr. Forman. "It (BankAmerica) has become an even stronger player."

The new processing site, which went into production on May 1, uses image capture and character recognition technology from InfoScore Inc. of San Dimas, Calif. The system accelerates the collection and processing of business-to-business payments.

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