When Northwest Bank of Davenport, Iowa, developed a sweep program nine years ago to boost the profitability of its own business checking accounts, it didn't imagine that the software would become one of its best-selling products.

Just three years after Northwest brought it to market, Bank Sweep Manager is being used by 131 banks, said Mark Daubert, Northwest's sweep program manager. In order to offer interest on checking accounts, banks either put customers' money in money market accounts or enter repurchase agreements. In the latter case, they give customers Treasury bonds as collateral and are able to lend the money.

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