By Bills, Steve
As consumers turn increasingly to the Internet to pay their bills, Nacha, the electronic payments association, is encouraging businesses to use electronic invoicing and payment.
Nacha published a presentation last week on its Web site acknowledging that companies are having a hard time getting their accounting systems geared up for electronic payments, but arguing that the cost benefits of doing so are worthwhile.
Eventually, "business-to-business will probably be a much larger component (of the online payment market) than business-to-consumer," said Pete Lambert, a vice president at Wachovia Corp. in Atlanta and a co-chairman of Nacha's business-to-business committee.
"We're trying to get the dialogue started here," said Robert Unger, the director of electronic billing and payment at the Herndon, Va.-based Nacha. "There are a lot of opportunities here for banks."
Since 85% of business-to-business payments are still made by paper check, U.S. companies are still just starting the migration to electronic payments, Mr. Unger said.
Several companies have introduced products and services that integrate electronic invoices with corporations' accounts-payable systems.
In January, International Business Machines Corp. announced an alliance to market the electronic payment services of eOne Global LP, an affiliate of First Data Corp., to businesses and government agencies.
IBM will promote the SurePay and govOne services of eOne Global to enable corporations and government payers to view and pay invoices online, primarily using automated clearinghouse payments. …