Transpoint, the electronic bill presentment system affiliated with Microsoft Corp. that has been two years in the making, has formally begun operations.

"We're not in pilot any more," said Lewis Levin, president and chief executive officer of Transpoint LLC.

The Denver-based joint venture of Microsoft, First Data Corp., and Citigroup is "live and in a fundamentally stable position," Mr. Levin declared during Microsoft's annual FinNet event for the financial industry.

Transpoint also announced the signing of seven participants in its pilot program: Compass Bancshares, Bank United Corp., First Tennessee National Corp., BankcorpSouth, Firstar Corp., Amsouth Bank, and Amarillo National Bank.

That brings the total to 14. The other banking institutions are: Bank One Corp., Citibank, First Union Corp., PNC Bank Corp., KeyCorp, Mellon Bank Corp., and Wachovia Corp.

Transpoint has signed up 48 billers, of which three have gone live: Consolidated Edison of New York, the Orange County Register in California, and PECO Energy. Mr. Levin said several others are nearing completion of testing and some credit card billers will soon be announced.

He said putting the bill payment infrastructure in place "was hard work. We built it from scratch because nothing else existed that could do what we wanted to do."

Transpoint recently had to cope with some banks' decisions to suspend pilot testing pending system upgradings. Mr. Levin said those institutions remain "in the waiting stage."

He said that as Transpoint turns its focus to "live production," it will build volume. It expects to make "a major consumer announcement," said Mr. Levin, declining to give details. "Leaders will emerge, and a new cycle of innovation will begin."

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