Automated teller machine (ATM) specialist NCR has clinched a US$5 million deal with HSBC in Hong Kong to help the bank re-engineer its cheque-clearing operations, boosting the bank's efforts to provide more innovative services for customers. United States-based NCR will build a cheque imaging and truncation system (CITS) that will speed up the bank's ability to process the 500,000 cheques it handles each day. 'The installation of CITS will help us streamline our IT operations,' said Y B Yeung, head of information technology and assistant general manager at HSBC. Andrew Long, HSBC's head of operations and processing for Asia-Pacific, said this project strengthened the bank's development programme for all lines of business, which included investing in new service delivery systems such as Internet banking and electronic transactions through ATMs. NCR will supply its iTRAN 8000 Imaging Transport as the main hardware component for the bank's cheque-imaging system. The company will also supply the project's principal software component, ChequeMark. Lee Schram, NCR vice-president and general manager of its payment and imaging solutions unit, said the cheque-imaging project extended a development programme on CITS between the company and HSBC that started in 1996. 'HSBC has long been a pioneer in adopting best-in-practice IT solutions to enhance its internal business operations. 'In the process we continuously adapt our research and development to ensure that our proposed solution is in line with HSBC's direction,' Mr Schram said. NCR, which supplies most of the ATMs used in Hong Kong, has been in the item-processing business for more than 40 years, with the past decade spent moving traditional, labour-intensive cheque-processing methods to an automated, image-based environment. Mr Schram said: 'Cheque imaging technology is already mature in the United States, but has only started to make some inroads in the last decade in selected financial centres across Asia, such as Hong Kong.' He said payment systems from NCR enabled item-based transactions - cheques and remittances - to be digitally captured, processed and stored in an image-based transaction archive for retrieval and delivery through the Internet, a network and CD-Rom.