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Check Image Exchange Soars in 2006

NCHA and SVPCO see significant rise in the volumes of digitized checks exchanged last year. Numbers also show a trend toward doing so without the use of substitute checks.

Last year proved to be the break-out year for check image exchange as volumes soared, according to numbers from Dallas-based National Clearing House (NCHA), settler of clearinghouse check volume, and SVPCO-Electronic Clearing Services (New York), the electronic check and check image exchange business of The Clearing House Payments Company.

According to NCHA, year-end image exchange volumes totaled more than 670.1 million items valued at $626 billion. This trend continued throughout December with a 15 percent increase in item volumes over November 2006. In December, NCHA's image exchange volumes reached 146.6 million items totaling $125.3 billion. Of the 146.6 million image items settled in December, 90 percent were both sent and received as images, with the remaining 10 percent sent as images and then converted into substitute checks, said the firm in a release. Fourth quarter image exchange item volume totaled 369.7 million items valued at $326.5 billion.

Meanwhile, at SVPCO, the number of check images exchanged in 2006 soared 15-fold compared to 2005, while the dollar value jumped 5-fold. In December 2005, total monthly items were 11.6 million and monthly dollar volume was $73.4 billion. However, in December 2006, numbers from the organization show there were 122 million in total monthly items and $270.6 billion in total monthly dollar value, an increase of 16 percent and 14.3 percent, respectively.

"The SVPCO Image Payments Network closed out 2006 setting new item and dollar records, while the Federal Reserve's volume jumped 40.8 percent," said Susan Long, SVP of The Clearing House, responsible for SVPCO-Electronic Clearing Services, in a statement. "We're pleased with the progress our partners are making in leveraging the Image Payments Network, and we look forward to adding new institutions in coming months."

According to Glenn Wheeler, president and CEO of NCHA, the figures are telling in more ways than one. "The fourth quarter of 2006 marks a significant time in the transformation from paper to image share and image exchange," he said in a release. "The increase in image volumes is dramatic. However it is also significant in that the growth is coming from solutions where substitute checks are not being created, thus reinforcing the fact that financial institutions are becoming more and more image-receive enabled."

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