COLUMBUS, Ohio - The National Clearinghouse Association has added six members, boosting its number of bank holding companies to 53 and individual bank members to 100.

The six new members are First Fidelity Bancorp., Lawrenceville, N.J.; First National Bank of Commerce, New Orleans; Magna Group Inc., St. Louis; Riggs National Bank, Washington D.C.; Signet Banking Corp., Richmond, Va.; and Boston Safe Deposit and Trust Co.

The clearing house was designed as a private sector alternative to Federal Reserve check clearing services. It links local check clearing houses on a national level. Banks send cash letters with bundled items destined for one city to a member bank, which then acts as the central clearing agent.

Settlement services are handled by Huntington Bancshares' treasury management unit, which runs a system that allocates netted payments for the items presented.

Check clearing volume has consistently grown in this, the association's third year of operation. Banks now clear nearly 3.2 million checks daily through the clearing house.

The association is the brainchild of Huntington and U.S. Check, both of Columbus, and Littlewood & Shain of Exton, Pa. It was founded in 1992 when Huntington obtained permission from the Fed to provide clearing services that bypass the central bank.

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