its much anticipated electronic bill presentment program, its top officer said.
Lewis Levin, the former Microsoft Corp. executive who serves as president and chief executive officer of Denver-based Transpoint, said the current focus is on getting billers up and running on the system.
The joint venture of Microsoft, First Data Corp., and Citigroup Inc. is also preparing new versions of its software that are designed to make receiving bills through banks more convenient.
"We have quite a few billers in the pipeline," Mr. Levin said. "These should show up clustered near the end of the year." He expects to have more than 100 billers by this time next year. The company is currently working with more than 50.
The larger the number of corporations presenting bills, the better the news should be for consumers and for banks testing Transpoint's system. Transpoint currently presents bills from five companies: Consolidated Edison of New York, the Orange County Register, Xerox Corp., GTE Corp., and PECO Energy. That number trails the 29 sending electronic bills through Transpoint's main rival, Checkfree Holdings Corp. of Norcross, Ga.
Transpoint's lower number caused at least one financial institution to give the project a less-urgent status.
"We discovered there was only one biller in our area that would be of interest to our customers," said Wayne Sadin, chief information officer at $14.9 billion-asset Bank United Corp. in Houston. "I really like Transpoint's technology. They just need to get more content before it becomes a No. 1 priority for us."
Having "a good number of billers available" will also influence KeyCorp's decision on when to go live with Transpoint, said Paul Ayres, manager of on-line services at the Cleveland bank.
Those institutions and 15 other financial service companies announced plans to pilot Transpoint's service. So far, none has rolled it out to the general public.
A spokeswoman for Transpoint said "more than two-thirds" of these companies are in pilot mode, but declined to elaborate. Some suspended their pilots this year and may not have put them back on track.
"We're focusing all of our efforts on our joint venture with Chase Manhattan Corp. and Wells Fargo," said a spokeswoman at First Union Corp., referring to the Spectrum bill presentment company that they established in June. "We hope that Transpoint participates."
Officials at Wells Fargo, also piloting Transpoint, were not available for comment. The bank suspended its pilot this spring.
Merrill Lynch & Co., another institution that suspended its pilot this year, has not resumed testing, said a spokeswoman there. In April, Mr. Levin attributed Merrill Lynch's suspension to that company's desire for "pay-anyone" capability -- enabling customers to pay bills to recipients who cannot receive them in electronic form.
Mellon Bank Corp.'s global cash management unit recently announced it would launch a pilot of Transpoint in the third quarter on behalf of an unidentified corporate client.
Consumers can pay Transpoint-presented bills by going to Transpoint's Web site or to the Microsoft MSN MoneyCentral personal finance site.