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Wavelet coding performs better than discrete cosine transform in visual processing. Moreover, it is scalable, which is important for modern video standards. The transpose memory requirement and operation speed are the two major concerns in 2-D lifting-based discrete wavelet transform (LDWT) implementation. This letter presents a novel algorithm, called 2-D symmetric mask-based discrete wavelet transform (SMDWT), to improve the critical issue of the 2-D LDWT, and then obtains the benefit of low-latency reduced complexity, and low transpose memory. The SMDWT also has the advantages of reduced complexity, regular signal coding, short critical path, reduced latency time, and independent subband coding processing. Furthermore, the 2-D LDWT performance can also be easily improved by exploiting an appropriate parallel method inherent to SMDWT. The proposed method has a significantly better lifting-based latency and complexity in 2-D DWT than normal 2-D 5/3 integer LDWT without degradation in image quality. The algorithm can be applied to real-time image/video applications.