Norwest Corp., the second-largest originator of automated clearing house transactions, has joined a bank-owned network that hopes to loosen the Fed's grip on ACH processing.

Minneapolis-based Norwest has joined the Private Sector Automated Clearing House Exchange, commonly known as Pax. It consists of the Arizona Clearing House Association, the New York Clearing House, and Visa U.S.A.'s ACH subsidiary - the Federal Reserve's three competitors in that part of the electronic payments business.

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