The National Automated Clearing House Association and Western Payments Alliance have joined CommerceNet, a consortium of banks and other organizations aiming to develop trade on the Internet.
The two automated clearing house associations joined the consortium in order to participate in the drafting of standards and protocols for electronic trade.
"We are looking at it as a research tool to see what is available on the Internet," said Peter Yeatrakas, president of Western Pay Alliance, or WesPay, a regional automated clearing house based in San Bruno, Calif.
"With payments, we want to be involved with any system that will possibly use the automated clearing house network or checks," he said.
CommerceNet, based in Menlo Park, Calif., is a year-old concern comprised of banks, software vendors, telecommunications companies, and other corporations.
It has 102 members, including BankAmerica Corp., San Francisco; Banc One Corp., Columbus, Ohio.; Citicorp, New York, Electronic Data Systems Corp., Plano, Tex.; and Wells Fargo & Co., San Francisco.
The common thread among members is a desire to explore how the Internet - a worldwide web of computer networks - might affect business operations and payment systems.
Business applications on the Internet include the streamlining of payment exchanges and related business information, development of intercompany E-mail, and promotion of "electronic shopping malls."
Cathy Medich, CommerceNet's executive director, said members have formed several working groups, which meet about once a month. Mr. Yeatrakas and officials of the national clearing house group will participate in working groups on payment services and Internet electronic data interchange.
More than a dozen pilot programs have been launched to test security mechanisms for on-line credit card payments.
Several other pilots are examining the effectiveness of marketing catalogues and studying the demographics of the marketplace.
Mr. Yeatrakas, whose association represents scores of West Coast banks for automated electronic payments, said it is important for his group to get in on the ground floor if CommerceNet does blossom into a viable payments and information vehicle.