Nine additional banks have joined as equity owners of a company that clears and settles electronically presented checks.

Twelve banks were already equity owners of Small Value Payments Co., so now most of the country's 25 largest banks are on board.

The for-profit company, known as SVPCo, was spun off from the New York Clearing House in July. SVPCo is processing 500,000 electronic items a day and estimates that banks can save $5.1 billion a year with electronic check presentment.

Electronic presentment, or ECP, uses electronic formats to speed the delivery of deposited check information to paying banks. Savings come through improved check fraud detection and lowered transportation costs.

"We think we have beyond a doubt the critical mass to move ECP forward," said Henry C. Farrar, senior vice president of the New York Clearing House and chief operating officer of SVPCo.

Electronic presentment is moving up the priority lists of the largest banks, said David Walker, executive director of the Electronic Check Clearing House Organization, a Dallas-based rulemaking body for interbank ECP exchanges.

Mr. Farrar noted that the Banking Industry Technology Secretariat, the technology arm of the Bankers Roundtable, wants half of all large-bank items to be processed through an ECP program by 2001.

SVPCo's newest members are BankBoston Corp., BB&T Corp., Comerica Inc., KeyCorp, Mellon Bank Corp., PNC Bank Corp., Summit Bancorp, U.S. Bancorp, and Wachovia Corp.

The banks own 99% of SVPCo; the New York Clearing House owns the remaining 1%.

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