HERNDON, Va. — For the first year since 1995, the number of checks processed by the Federal Reserve System decreased in 2000, Nacha, the electronic payments association, reported Thursday.

Costs and prices for check processing continued to increase, the organization said.

The Fed processed 16,993,800,000 checks in 2000, down 0.5% from 1999. The unit cost to the Fed to process a check increased to 4.0 cents in 2000 from 3.8 cents; the unit price the Fed charged for check processing increased to 4.3 cents from 4.1 cents.

By comparison, the Fed’s automated clearing house volume in 2000 increased 14%, to 3,812,191,000, according to Nacha. The unit cost for an ACH payment was 1.6 cents, down from 1.7 cents in 1999, and the unit price was 1.9 cents, down from 2.1 cents.

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