COLUMBUS, Ohio - Bank One Corp. has added its Chicago check processing operation to the National Clearinghouse Association, a private-sector service that offers an alternative to the Federal Reserve banks' check clearing and settlement operations.

The association, not to be confused with the trade group known as Nacha, was founded in 1992 by Huntington Bancshares, Littlewood Shain, and U.S. Check. The National Clearinghouse system now comprises 41 holding companies - including many of the largest U.S. banking companies - and has 110 check processing sites in the United States. It is one of the five largest U.S. clearing houses, with an average daily settlement amount exceeding $3 billion.

Terry Geer, senior partner at Columbus-based Check Exchange System Co., which operates National Clearinghouse, said Bank One was an original member of the system. Adding the Chicago facility merely brings the former First Chicago NBD Corp.'s operations into the fold. Bank One and First Chicago NBD announced a merger agreement in April 1998, and the merger closed in October of that year.

"This makes the process that much more efficient, plus you have another processor involved," said Mr. Geer, who is also a senior vice president at Huntington Bancshares in Columbus.

National Clearinghouse has since bought Littlewood Shain's stake. Littlewood Shain is now known as Automated Financial Systems of Exton, Pa.

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