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Association Update

More then 200 million e-check payments were made during the first half of 2002, according to statistics released by NACHA; The Independent Community Bankers of America will recognize and support the Electronic Check Clearing House Organization rules for electronic check presentment.

More then 200 million e-check payments were made during the first half of 2002, an increase of more than 300 percent over the same period of 2001, according to statistics presented by NACHA - The Electronic Payments Association at Electronic Check 2002, the 5th annual e-check conference.

"E-checks are gaining acceptance in the marketplace," said William B. Nelson, executive vice president of NACHA. "E-checks provide companies and financial institutions the benefits of electronic payment processing, while consumers gain the protection of Regulation E."

An e-check is an electronic debit to a checking account that is initiated at the point-of-sale, on the Internet, over the telephone, or via a bill remittance sent through the mail, and is processed using the Automated Clearing House (ACH) Network. E-checks are covered by the Federal Reserve's Regulation E, which defines specific consumer rights and protections from error and fraud. There is no comparable federal regulation covering paper check and demand draft payments.

"A recent study by the Federal Reserve shows that check use in the United States is declining," Nelson said. "But with billions of checks still being written every year at the point-of-sale and for bill payment, e-checks are poised for substantial growth and will contribute to the decline of paper check processing."

For more information on NACHA, visit www.nacha.org

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The Independent Community Bankers of America announced its recognition and support for the Electronic Check Clearing House Organization (ECCHO) rules for electronic check presentment (ECP) and check image exchanges.

ECCHO is a national, not-for-profit clearinghouse that developed the only existing, comprehensive set of ECP and image exchange rules.

"ICBA recognition and support for the ECCHO rules paves the way for community banks throughout the country to enter into ECP and check image exchanges with the confidence that all banks will be covered by the same rules," said ICBA chairman A. Pierce Stone. Stone is also chairman and CEO of Virginia Community Bank in Louisa, Va.

Community banks of all sizes are migrating to ECP and check imaging given the efficiencies of check truncation. Preliminary results from the ICBA and InFinet Resources 2002 Annual Community Bank Technology Survey reveal that 47 percent of the respondents currently use image-check processing and an additional 41 percent are planning to evaluate image check processing within the next 12 to 18 months.

"Given this very strong imaging adoption rate, community banks are well positioned to embrace exchanging check images in lieu of the paper check," noted David E. Hayes, chairman of ICBA's Payments and Technology Committee and the president of Security Bank in Dyersburg, Tenn.

For more information on the ICBA, visit www.icba.org

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