Crestar Financial Corp. has installed electronic check presentment software from Servantis Systems Inc., and NBD Bancorp and Old Kent Financial Corp. are installing the package.

The three regional banks, along with the former Dominion Bancshares, which has since been acquired by First Union Corp., co-developed the system with the Norcross, Ga.-based technology firm.

The software, called Epoch, is being released following a test at Richmond, Va.-based Crestar.

Aim Is to Reduce Risk of Fraud

With electronic check presentment, or ECP, check data is sent electronically between paying and issuing banks before the actual check.

The technology is used to help banks reduce the risk of fraud by quickly detecting checks drawn on insufficient funds.

Jan Mooney, product manager with Servantis, said development of the product began two years-ago in large measure as a response to the Federal Reserve Board's Regulation CC, which went into effect in 1988.

"Banks were trying to minimize exposure," Ms. Mooney said. "Regulation CC required that banks release funds on a set schedule, possibly before they had received payment on them. That created problems for banks."

The rule required banks to release funds on returned items within two days for local checks and five days for nonlocal checks.

Progress Slow

Though electronic check presentment has been around for a number of years, Ms. Mooney said electronic-presentment capability in the banking industry has thus far not proceeded as quickly as expected.

"It has taken a lot longer to get it on the road," Ms. Mooney said. "Some of it has been due to banks' priorities, such as mergers and acquisitions."

But that may be changing as more banks employ electronic presentment. Recently, the Delaware-based Payments Solution System Network announced the start-up of an presentment network through Checklinks software, which was developed by J.D. Carreker & Associates, Dallas.

Epoch, a package of send-and-receive software, runs on IBM's 3890 and 3890xp sorters and can be integrated into IBM's CPCS item-processing system.

The software also supports the current versions of ANSI, Eccho, and the Fed's ECL/PBS file formats.

'Prime Pass' Image Matching

One of the software's capabilities that Servantis' senior vice president, Alix Hoffman, pointed to was its "prime pass image matching," a feature that allows for the matching of paper checks to the electronic images during the initial capture.

"Because matching occurs on the prime pass," explained Mr. Hoffman, "match processing is performed as quickly as checks are passed through the sorter."

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