Fleet Financial Group has begun using an image processing system from IA Corp. that Shawmut National Corp. bought before being acquired by Fleet.

The software, which is being used only in the lockbox services that came to Fleet as a result of the merger, lets corporate customers view images of exception items on-line.

Jerry Blodgett, an account manager at Emeryville, Calif.-based IA Corp., said Shawmut's decision to purchase was made before the Fleet deal was struck. The merger was completed on Nov. 30.

He added that Shawmut was interested in streamlining the handling of exception items. The IA software helps banks "make an appropriate decision on whether to honor payments," he said.

The former Shawmut lockbox unit services corporate customers in the New England area. Its average monthly retail volume is between 4.5 million and 5 million items, while volume in its wholesale operations ranges from 500,000 to 750,000 items.

Including Shawmut operations, Fleet makes close to 10 million retail payments and about 1.5 million wholesale transactions a month, an industry source said.

Fleet also owns two major retail lockbox processing businesses that it now outsources.

The two remittance processing operations, supporting the Fleet Mortgage and Fleet Student Loan units, may be taken back in-house, which could add another 500,000 transactions to the combined bank's lockbox operations, the source said.

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