In addition to having sent a check via the Internet in September, and thus demonstrating that such a feat is technologically feasible, the Financial Services Technology Consortium is now seeking to prove that electronic checks are indeed useful for transacting routine business.

First, the FSTC is undertaking an anti-fraud project to make electronic checks as foolproof as possible, said Adam Backenroth, vice president of technology planning for Chemical Banking Corp., and a member of the group's executive committee. The elaboration on the progress with the electronic check was discussed at the FSTC's bi-monthly meeting in a New York suburb last October.

"We thought we'd be much better off if we just hired some people to attack our system and just let them loose," Backenroth told the group.

Security has become a hot topic since several flaws were uncovered in Netscape Communications Corp.'s Internet software.

"If we [have that kind of security breach] 12 months from now, it's going to undermine confidence" in the electronic check, the director of applied technology for Bank of Boston, John Doggett, told the group that same day.

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