The Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh plans to offer check images along with the monthly statements it prints for the 200,000 customers of its member institutions.

The Home Loan bank has bought ImageBanc II software from Fiserv's image integration business unit, which it acquired this month from Cincinnati Bell Information Systems.

With assets of more than $19 billion, the Pittsburgh bank is one of 12 regional banks that make up the Home Loan Bank System. Their primary function is to provide short-term credit to banks and thrifts in order to promote home finance.

As a bankers' bank, the Home Loan institution has a major line of business in processing checks for its members. The Pittsburgh bank's expansion in these services stands in contrast to recent moves by other Home Loan banks that have either exited the business or outsourced it to third parties.

"This was a strategic decision," said Lawrence Kirschner, senior vice president of correspondent operating services, referring to the move to add ImageBanc software. "If you are going to be in the check business, you've got to be in imaging."

The Home Loan Bank serves financial institutions in Deaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. It has 385 financial institution members, including a handful of credit unions and an insurance company.

The bank has added 57 commercial bank members in the last year, boosting its total to 224. It processes 38.9 million checks annually for 90 member banks and thrifts.

"Our bet on this is that probably 30% eventually will be on the image side," Mr. Kirschner said. "Our goal at the end of next year is to be doing 60,000 statements a month."

The paper checks are microfilmed at the Federal Home Loan Bank, stored for 90 days, then shredded. Customers can get photocopies from the bank as long as seven years after the check has been processed. The bank does the direct mailing of statements to customers.

Rob Stewart, marketing manager at Milwaukee-based Fiserv, said the technology company expects a relatively straightforward implementation.

"It captures the images, assembles the statement with the images with the text page from their DDA system, and creates the printed output on high-speed laser printers."

The ImageBanc software the bank has bought will run under the Unix operating system on hardware from AT&T Global Information Solutions.

"Image statements demonstrates our commitment to providing leading-edge technology to our customers," said James D. Roy, the Pittsburgh bank's president and CEO. "By making the capital investment on the wholesale level, we achieve economies of scale, and everyone benefits."

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