Check-Imaging Test Delayed

J.P. Morgan Chase has more urgent priorities, such as testing checking-account system to serve both customers of Chase and Bank One, which recently merged with Chase.
A test of exchanging check images between J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Key Bank that had been planned for last weekend has been delayed because of an apparent misunderstanding between Chase and the National Clearing House Association, a clearinghouse to which both Chase and Key belong.

The NCHA issued a statement to its members last Tuesday that the test would take place over the weekend, then Thursday issued another statement that the test had been postponed until mid-August. The NCHA apparently was unaware when it issued the first statement that J.P. Morgan Chase had already scheduled a test over the weekend of a checking account system to serve account holders of both Chase and Bank One, which merged earlier this month.

Chase declined to say when the check-image test would take place. "We're working toward a 2006 goal for check-image exchange, and there are some more urgent priorities," a spokesman says. The NCHA declined to comment.

The Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act takes effect in October, requiring banks to accept facsimiles or scanned images in lieu of the original check, though it still gives banks the option of sending the original check to the bank on which it's drawn. Banks and processors currently pay couriers to haul checks across town or across the country to the paying banks. Chase is testing ATMs equipped with image-capture devices from NCR Corp. in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. Starting next year, it will begin installing image-capture devices on its entire fleet of 3,100 full-function ATMs. It's also installing image-enabled teller systems in branches in Cleveland and northern Ohio.

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