WASHINGTON - The Senate voted 87-0 on Friday to approve a bill that would give contracts and other agreements that are concluded electronically the same legal standing as paper contracts.

The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act will also allow financial institutions to deliver statements and other information to customers electronically, if the customer agrees to receive them that way and can demonstrate the ability to do so.

The Senate vote came two days after the House approved the measure 426-4, and sends the bill to President Clinton's desk. A White House spokesman said the President is expected to sign the bill into law.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm said the bill will "allow American businesses to become more efficient and productive." However, the Texas Republican warned, "If this legislation proves to put an unnecessary burden on electronic commerce, and if the regulators fail to act, or if legislation is needed, we will take vigorous action in the Congress to correct the situation."

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