The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia has begun selling a high-speed service for check image capture it developed with the help of Chase Manhattan Corp.'s Delaware-based affiliate.

The service, the first of its kind in the Fed system, gives banks the ability to provide their corporate customers with electronic check presentment services and same-day access to check images.

The Philadelphia Fed built a system using a collection of check sorters and imaging equipment from Unisys Corp., and software from ImageSoft Technologies, a Maitland, Fla.-based subsidiary of Milwaukee's Fiserv Inc. Specifications for the system were set during a pilot with Chase Delaware, according to Blake Prichard, senior vice president at the Philadelphia Fed.

The Fed is hoping to attract other banks' Delaware-based affiliates to use the system by touting the benefits of improved service for commercial clients.

"There is a Delaware phenomenon," said Mr. Prichard. "There is an enormous volume of cash management activity through banks in Delaware, and image support is an important component."

Chase Delaware participated in a two-month pilot of the service this summer, processing one-third of its monthly volume of 2.5 million checks through the Philadelphia Fed, said William A. Telkowski, vice president of administration at Chase.

The bank plans gradually to increase that volume to 1.25 million checks monthly, said Mr. Telkowski. "We were both ready for this," he said.

The Fed's new service includes electronic check presentment - in which information about a check is sent to involved banks in advance of the actual item - and the delivery of check images, front and back, on digital linear tape that holds 10 to 20 gigabytes of memory.

Mr. Prichard noted that same-day delivery of images allows for improved fraud detection.

"It's of particular interest to larger banks with a significant cash management business," he said. "They can address fraud and risk concerns at least 12 hours earlier."

One of the advantages of the Fed's service for Chase is that it frees the bank from having to invest in computer hardware to use the service, said Mr. Telkowski.

The bank has plans to introduce similar services in conjunction with other Fed banks in upstate New York and Dallas sometime next year.

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