The Federal Reserve's 12 regional banks completed a six-year consolidation of paper-check processing to one office from 45 as part of the U.S. shift to electronic payments.

The Fed discontinued paper-check processing in Atlanta on Feb. 26, leaving one site in Cleveland, the central bank said Tuesday.

Almost 99% of checks are processed as electronic images today, compared with 100% processed as paper in 2004, the Fed said.

The changes trimmed the functions of the 12 regional Fed banks, whose bank-supervision powers and political independence are under threat from Congress now.

The Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act, which allows the scanned image of a check to be treated as the legal equivalent of a paper check, became law in October 2003 and went into effect a year later.

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