Magazine article American Banker

On-Line Banking: N.H. Firm's Software Brings Billers, Consumers This Close

Magazine article American Banker

On-Line Banking: N.H. Firm's Software Brings Billers, Consumers This Close

Article excerpt

Bottomline Technologies Inc. has begun using its automated clearing house software to let billers interact directly with consumers.

The approach contrasts with that of electronic billing consolidators- banks or other intermediaries such as Checkfree Corp. or Microsoft and First Data's MSFDC joint venture, which act as centralized clearing houses for bills and payments.

"Bill presentment is a tale of two camps, outsourcing or in-house management," said Gary R. Craft, vice president and senior research analyst at BancAmerica Robertson Stephens.

He said consolidators give billers outsourcing services, but those that do not want any other company between them and their customers may opt for services offered by the likes of Portsmouth, N.H.-based Bottomline.

It offers the option of receiving electronic payments via automated clearing house direct debits. The company's PayBase software is already used by 2,500 companies for direct payroll deposits or business-to-business electronic data interchange.

Now Bottomline is letting billers send invoices and receive payments electronically and nonelectronically. A consumer not participating in any electronic bill presentment program would get a paper bill printed by PayBase.

But if the biller can persuade a customer to adopt direct debit, the system would send the consumer a bill by e-mail or fax, along with a notice that the consumer's checking account will be billed on a specified date.

For payers who want to control the amounts and dates of their remittances, the system can send e-mail messages giving consumers a Web address where they can initiate payments. …

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