Magazine article American Banker

Checkfree to De-Emphasize Banks

Magazine article American Banker

Checkfree to De-Emphasize Banks

Article excerpt

By MARJANOVIC, STEVEN

Checkfree Corp.'s patience with banks may be wearing thin.

The provider of electronic bill payment and presentment services has indicated it will adopt a strategy that would lessen its reliance on banks as a distribution channel for its services.

Banks have moved more slowly than Checkfree would like in providing a fertile environment for electronic billing. Only four of the 10 largest U.S. banks have Internet-based home banking capabilities, said Checkfree, quoting Pawan Malhotra, an analyst at Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc.

Checkfree has seen growing interest in its offerings, with nine new billers signing up for its electronic bill presentment service, E-Bill, in the last quarter.

"Billers are now moving substantially faster toward market than the banks are, and they need a distribution system that moves beyond the speed of the banks," said Peter Kight, chairman and chief executive officer of Atlanta-based Checkfree.

Modifying its strategy to meet the needs of billers "means we will be working with other organizations that are Internet-based," he said during a recent conference call with analysts.

Mr. Kight declined to answer questions during that call about specific strategic plans, saying formal announcements would be forthcoming. He did not return phone calls seeking comment for this article.

Mr. Malhotra speculated that Checkfree would pursue relationships with Internet gateways like Yahoo or America Online to deliver consolidated bundles of bills to customers. Checkfree firmly believes in having consumers go to just one site to receive their bills, Mr. …

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