The Electronic Payments Network has moved closer to its goal of overtaking the Federal Reserve as the country’s premier handler of automated clearing house payments.

The private-sector network recently announced that First Union Corp. had sent 400,000 payments through its system in one day. And First Union, one of 19 bank owners of the network, expects to send all of its ACH payments — more than 18 million a month — through Electronic instead of the Fed by the end of January.

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