DALLAS -- A leading maker of check-processing equipment is planning to introduce software to help banks sort and store electronic check images.

Unlike other check-image software, Recognition International Inc.'s new Image Vision software is said to be appropriate for use by small, midsize, or large banks.

"There are some very expensive mainframe solutions" for very fast check sorters and "some relatively inexpensive solutions for very low-speed devices," said Tom Dean, Recognition's bank industry-product manager.

"We have a scalable system that can run the gamut, from low speed to high speed," he added.

Dallas-based Recognition sells check-sorting equipment that is used by nearly 800 banks and service bureaus.

Expensive Alternatives

Computer vendors International Business Machines Corp. and Unisys Corp. sell mainframe software that helps banks sort and store check images that works with check sorters that can sort more than 2,400 checks per minute, Mr. Dean said.

But this software is so expansive - with licensing costs ranging from several hundred thousand to more than a million dollars -- that only the largest check-clearing banks can afford it.

Cheaper software, costing only tens of thousands of dollars, is available for personal computers. This software works with check sorters that sort fewer than 500 checks per minute, Mr. Dean said, but is not powerful enough for midsize and large banks.

Recognition plans to fill that gap with its Image Vision software.

Medium-Speed Version First

The initial version of Image Vision, due for commercial release in the middle of 1994, will be targeted at midsize banks and will work with medium-speed check sorters that sort between 600 and 1,000 checks a minute.

Later versions will work with both the fastest and slowest check sorters on the market, Mr. Dean said.

Depending upon configuration, the software will cost anywhere from $30,000 to $200,000.

Banks need IBM PS/2 personal computers or compatibles with the IBM OS/2 operating system to run Image Vision.

These computers can be linked into what computer specialists call a local-area network to boost processing power.

The Image Vision software will be engineered to handle three chores.

One is the preparation of so-called image statements, in which banks use their computers to put images of checks on letter-sized pieces of paper, instead of returning the original checks with monthly statements.

Image Vision will also support proof-of-deposit operations where employees in bank proof departments look at check images on a computer screen to encode with magnetic ink the check amount onto the check. Additionally, the software will store check images on optical and magnetic disks.

Initial Use Is Set

C-Teq, a bank-service bureau in Oklahoma City that sorts 12 million checks a month for small and midsize banks in the state, plans in January to become the first company to use Image Vision.

Initially, C-Teq will only use the software for image-statement preparation., although the company hopes to eventually use the software's other features, Mr. Dean said.

Image Vision was designed for Recognition by Advanced Financial Solutions, Inc., a small bank software developer in Norman, Okla.

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