First Union Corp. has introduced a system for export-related documentation that it says will help to accelerate payments and improve control of funds.

The system, called Export Concentration, lets a company use First Union as its primary bank for all its export collections, regardless of how the sales were made.

The bank, based in Charlotte, N.C., said it is one of only a handful nationwide offering such a system.

Based on Windows software, it provides export managers with electronic copies of letters of credit as they arrive at First Union. The exporter can create collection letters and advise the bank electronically to begin the collection and tracing cycle.

As payments and status changes occur, the Export Concentration system matches the incoming details with the appropriate open receivable.

"Banks have traditionally packaged letters-of-credit reporting and back- office functions into three or four separate pieces," said John McFadden, head of trade banking product development at First Union. "This is a one- stop-shopping approach that also permits customers to collect on a letter of credit issued by another bank."

The system is part of a push by the $131 billion-asset First Union to expand in trade finance.

"Our intention is to become one of the top five or six trade banks in the country," Mr. McFadden said.

In March, First Union became the first company to offer international trade finance services over the Internet. The bank has correspondent relationsihips with banks in 140 countries and recently established a trade-related joint venture deposit-taking company in Hong Kong.

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